The Goonch Catfish (Bagarius yarrelli; in Hindi: गूंच), or Giant Devil Catfish, is a large Catfish that lives in India, Nepal, and other East Asian, Asian and Southeast Asian Countries.
Jeremy Wade first searched for this fish on camera in 2005 for an episode of the Jungle Hooks series. After a long search, Jeremy finally caught a medium-sized Goonch. He stated that while he was glad that he had caught it, however he was haunted by the image of a larger individual, and eventually would continue his search, which he did in River Monsters.
Jeremy caught the Goonch in an episode of Jungle Hooks India. The episode was called The Goonch and it was the second-to-last episode in the series.
In the River Monsters episode Killer Catfish Jeremy Wade investigated a series of freshwater attacks on people in the Kali River. After eliminating Mugger Crocodiles (as well as other Himalayan crocodilians like the Gharial), River Dolphins and Turtles from the suspect list, he received a tip that the creature behind the attacks was a Soos. During further investigation, Wade found out that the Soos is a mythical river beast that looks like an elongated pig. He would later find out that the Soos was inspired by the Goonch Catfish. On his next expedition to India he would gradually catch several Goonch Catfish, each one bigger than the last. However, none of these were over 30 pounds. His persistence paid off when he caught a massive Goonch Catfish that was 161 pounds and five feet, seven inches. He was actually dragged into the water during the battle, and had to swim after the fish while holding his rod.
After ten years, Jeremy had heard little about the Goonch. He feared that it had gone extinct. In Season 9 Jeremy returned to the haunts of the Goonch, this time in India's neighbor Nepal. He hoped to find proof that the Goonch still lurked in the region's rivers. He tracked down several predators that could be responsible for fishermen being dragged into the water. These included the Gharial and Snakehead. However, they were dismissed because of reasons including lack of strength for the Snakehead and too cold water for the Gharial. Jeremy then goes for the goonch which with little doubt was responsible, yet he has no luck until his final day. However, he catches a Giant Softshell Turtle in a pool. He caught one of these before catching his first goonch. He then gets a bite and is dragged into the water with his rod. He manages to return to his boat, but the goonch has the advantage. After winding the line around a rock the goonch manages to brake the line and escape. In a way, the Goonch can be seen as the original River Monster.
In this episode, Jeremy tries to catch the Goonch. In the end, he succeeds.
The Goonch also appears in Mighty Rivers: The Ganges, when Jeremy sees four specimens using an ROV. This to Jeremy is a very good sign. If the river's two top predators, the Goonch and the Mahseer were still around, this indicates that in some places at least, the river is still living.
Description[edit | edit source]
The Goonch Catfish is one of the largest species of catfish in the world. It is slightly larger than the red-tail catfish but smaller than both the Wels Catfish and Piraiba. The world record specimen was 6.6 feet long, and weighed 230 lbs. It has long, sharp teeth which it uses to inflict damage on its prey. It is very likely that a large Goonch could take down a person. Despite the 230 pound accepted max, Jeremy believes he saw a highly overweight goonch while diving that he claims weighed between 800 and 2,000 pounds. Jeremy later said that he believed he hooked the exact same goonch, but like the one in Season 9 he was unable to bring it in.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- At this time, Jeremy's catfish was the world record. There is still debate as to whether is continues to hold the record or if it was passed.