There’s nothing more exciting than the tremendous tug on the line that marks the start of a battle with a big fish. But should we really be reeling in monster fish at all?
Often, the bigger the fish, the longer it takes to grow and the older it is when it reaches sexual maturity. Many of the genuinely big species of fish are now severely endangered. Here’s some monsters that could challenge your conscience and your fishing tackle:
You may still be lucky enough to catch an Arapaima on the fly, in the Amazon basin, but if you do, you’ll have to release it afterwards. The Arapaima can grow up to two and a half metres in length and large specimens may weigh in at over 100kg .
This enormous fish is sought after for its meat and has been over fished to the point where it is commercially extinct in its natural habitat. If you want to experience the thrill of catching an Arapaima on the fly, your best bet is to research game fishing lakes where this freshwater monster has been reared in captivity.
Prized as a game fish and widely exploited commercially, this denizen of the deep grows up to 170cm in length and can weigh up to 80kg. Found across the tropical Pacific, from South Africa and Hawaii to Japan and Australia, you’d need heavy tackle to take one on, but they can be caught with a fly rod.
Giant Trevally are, sadly, another addition to the list of overfished species and depending on where they’ve been feeding, larger specimens can be toxic to eat. Anglers have been contributing to the conservation effort by catching, tagging and releasing.
The Giant Barb ranks among the biggest of the big in terms of freshwater fish, and at up to 10 feet long and 300 kg in weight, is the largest of all the carp. It swims the muddy waters of the rivers and lakes of Indochina and is the national fish of Cambodia.
But the majestic Giant Barb is in big trouble. Overfished and subject to severe habitat loss, this King of the rivers has been pushed to the very edge of extinction.
The largest freshwater fish to swim in the rivers and lakes of North america, a specimen White Sturgeon could weigh as much as 800 kg or more. The sturgeon has no scales, being protected instead,by bony armour plating. Its a real dinosaur of a fish – largely unchanged since it came into being 175 million years ago.
Prized both for its meat and eggs, the White sturgeon has suffered serious decline in numbers. While not yet endangered, should you encounter one, enjoy the sport but before you decide to take a sturgeon home for the table, remember your tape measure; there is a strictly enforced minimum and maximum size limit.
They can weigh the best part of half a ton and their speed and agility is the stuff of legend. Unsurprisingly, Bluefin tuna has been prized, since antiquity, as both a food and sport fish. Traditional Japanese sushi, eschews the use of ‘bloody’, fish like tuna, as it doesn’t keep well and soon begins to smell. But over time, the fish has become prized.
Now, according to the Washington Post, some 80% of the catch is exported to Japan. Despite strong evidence of a catastrophic decline in Bluefin Tuna numbers, fishing quotas have yet to be reduced to a sustainable level. Simply put, if you’re tempted to get out your fly rod to go after one of these beauties – don’t.