Critically endangered in the wild but now bred in captivity, these fish are in regular supply to sport fishing venues across Thailand. A Thai government project finances the breeding and release of juvenile fish into the Mekong River and sales to sport fishing venues and fish markets enable the venture to remain financially stable. Much to the annoyance of many purist "Eco Soldiers" sport fishing has and is actively playing a proactive role in the conservation of the Mekong Giant Catfish.
The major breakthrough came Chiang Rai’s Wiengchai district in 1983 when the owner of a giant catfish farm called “Wang Pla Beuk” became the first person in the world to successfully breed the Mekong Giant Catfish. This farm has been credited with producing over 100,000 fish a year.The farm bred Mekong Catfish are now bred in Supanburi and various other locations across Thailand.
The largest fish on record was caught in 2005 and was 2.7m in length and weighed 293kg. The IGFA world record for the Mekong Giant Catfish is 79.54 kg (175lb 6oz) by Tim Webb at Bung Samran. More Details at Mega Fishing Thailand
Most of the sport fishing venues in and around Bangkok have Mekong Catfish, Bung Samran and Ngao Nam having the largest at 120kg plus. The average size is 25 to 30 kg.
The Chao Praya Catfish, or Pla Tapar is it is known locally is another giant Thai resident. It is known to grow upto 3.0m in length which is equal in size to the Mekong Giant Catfish. This species is Thailand's largest native predatory fish, with rumors of it being a Dog Eating Catfish still holding firm. It is stocked by many venues in Thailand although very large residents are not common. Average catch is less than 20kg
I have seen a high success rate using lure fishing, advice can be sought from the owner of the 7 Seas tackle shop for which lures are best and where to fish.
The mouth of the Chao Praya Catfish has pads of small teeth, almost Velcro like to the touch. Care must be taken with handling these fish as the Pectoral fins are effective spikes that will penetrate your body if mishandled.