Goonch (Bagarius bagarius), the giant catfish, by Sumantha Ghosh

Picture1Widespread throughout Asia, India is known for the largest species of goonch. Owing to their voracity, their formidable teeth and general appearance, they are also referred to as the fresh water shark and grows to a length of almost six feet. Its body is usually dirty grey with large irregular black or dark brown markings. Its fins usually have a dark band across them and sprout from a dark base. They are scaleless fish and have fleshy feelers attached to their mouth.

Goonch is a predaceous fish and lies in wait for its food in the swiftest water of the rapids, where it maintains position by adhering to rocks by means of its smooth chest and fins.

Goonch lie at the extremes of white water and are partial to the depths of the largest pools if there is a current slicing through them. Though very strong, they are sullen to a degree and sluggish in their movements especially on being hooked.

indgontnd003They sometimes take spoons and plug but are best on live bait (eel) spun very slowly. Once hooked, they go straight for the bottom. It is then the pull…devil…pull baker act which ensues, sometimes ending in favor of the fish.

To wear him out once snagged, tie your line to a fair-sized bamboo. Cut the line and allow the bamboo to float in the water. The bamboo bobbing in the current will keep a continuous strain on the goonch and hopefully by the end of the day it will be played out. If not, look for the bamboo next day.

Picture 230Mostly, the goonch runs to about 250 lbs, though the largest that has been caught on a rod line was 164 lbs near Marchula and we believe the American angler who snagged it in January 2001, had to use both hands to land the big guy.

At the Corbett Tiger Reserve, the Jhirna Jhali pool, also referred to as the crocodile pool, is the best place to observe (only!) goonch. The pool is virtually packed with this fish! This rare giant has also been caught in the Marchula area, Jainal and Govind Rou of Vanghat beat. Undoubtedly, goonch is one of the most threatened big fish of the Ramganga.

One Response to “Goonch (Bagarius bagarius), the giant catfish, by Sumantha Ghosh”

  1. Major thankies for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.

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