While vacationing in Krabi, Thailand, British angler Keith Williams landed what may be the world’s largest carp. The monstrous 134-pound, seven-ounce Siamese giant carp reportedly out-massed the current world record by more than 20 pounds. Williams is currently waiting for the record to be confirmed by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
Siamese giant carp, also known as giant barbs, are among the largest freshwater fish in the world and the largest-known species of cyprinid. At one time the carp were reported to reach maximum weights of over 600 pounds, but no such specimens have ever been caught on rod and reel.
Carp do not carry the same stigma in Asia as they do in North America, where they are seen as an invasive and unappetizing fish. Giant barbs are valued for their meat and fighting abilities, but their population is in decline. They are now found only in the Mae Klong, Mekong, and Choa Phraya rivers of Southeast Asia. Unlike their invasive cousins in America, carp populations across their native habitat are dwindling due to habitat loss and oftentimes pollution. Because of their rarity, most fishing guides or resorts in Asia mandate a strict catch-and-release policy for giant barbs. The location Williams was staying in, Gillhams Fishing Resort, was no exception.
The resort uses a specially-designed cradle similar to the type that transports dolphins to weigh potential world-record fish, which are then put back into the water as soon as possible.
Resort owner Stuart Gillham told OutdoorHub in an email that the family-run fishery has claimed several world records since an 184-pound Mekong catfish was caught there in 2008. The Gillhams decided to move to Krabi after years of memorable fishing trips in the region, and in 2005 Gillham decided to sell his scaffolding business in the United Kingdom for a permanent residence in Thailand.
Gillham was with Keith Williams when the angler landed the potential-record carp. Williams had rented out the entire resort for nine days while fishing with his friends and wife to celebrate his 56th birthday. Shorty before he caught the carp on October 10, Williams told his wife that he could “feel it in his bones” that the day was his lucky day. The angler caught three smaller giant barbs and by midday was engaged in a fight with a powerful Siamese carp. The battle lasted 25 minutes, and the resulting fish was weighed to be much larger than the 114-pound carp that currently holds the world record. That fish was caught by Terry Mather near Bangkok in 2004, another British angler.
Gillham wrote that resort staff and Williams followed IGFA rules for the fish to be accepted as a world record, including using certified scales and independent witnesses. It can take up to six months for a record to be processed. Until then, Williams will have the memories of a birthday well-celebrated.
Image courtesy Stuart Gillham