Species: Channa micropeltes.
Common names: Giant Snakehead, Toman, Redline snakehead and Giant Mudfish. Thai Name: Pla Shado.
Distribution: It is widely distributed in the freshwaters of Southeast Asia and some regions of India.
Habitat: The natural habitats for Snakehead fish are swamps, weedy channels and lakes with densely growing vegetation.
Giant snakehead or Giant mudfish are the second largest species in the family Channidae. Other names include red or redline snakehead fish, Malabar snakehead fish, and Ikan Toman. (Where “ikan´´ means “fish´´ in both Indonesian and Malay). With its razor sharp teeth it is a top-level predator; Meaning that they have no natural enemies outside of their native environment. When they eat it is a thrust predator; That is to say it will eat its prey all at once, striking and ingesting it whole. They are also a highly territorial fish; they will attack anything that gets too close, if they don’t want to eat it; they still want to kill it.
Because Thailand is one of the locations, in the world where you will have the opportunity to catch, a variety of different Snakehead fish species. The most often caught Snakehead in Thailand are the Striped Snakehead, Great Snakehead and the Giant Snakehead all three species are a natural part of the fish population of Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park, where we fish. It likes to stay behind snags from where it can ambush its prey. It can live in heavily vegetated waters where oxygen is scarce. Since they breathe oxygen from the air by using, their labyrinth organ.
When it’s one year old and spawns in a nest a little offshore. It is a surprisingly good parent and the male as well as the female protects the nest and eggs. The Giant Snakehead is considered gregarious; they will follow their young closely. Parents will attack everything disturbing the snakehead’s school of juveniles. This behavior wears off as the fry grow. The young are red in color, with orange and black lateral stripes appearing after about two months. As it matures, they lose their stripes and instead develop a bluish black and white pattern on their upper body. It generally feeds on other fish, frogs and birds.
Size: They are capable of growing to over 1 m (3.3 ft) in length, with weights of over 20 kg (44 lb). The present world record is 10 kg. At Cheow lan Lake there has been caught a Giant Snakehead of 11 kg!!
They take surface lures, diving lures, popper flies and large streamers. Giant Snakehead take the lure hard and will dive to the nearest snag or cover with constant head shaking. Snakehead fishing in water with weedy and growing vegetation, with top water lures; can produce some spectacular visual surface strikes and is adrenaline fishing at its best! When fishing in deeper water with diving lures, you spot the Snakehead as it is coming up to the surface to breathe and then slowly dive down cast; as soon as possible the lure to the fish.
They are very territorial and when Giant Snakehead are taking care of their fry the first months they will attack everything that comes to close. If you spot a school of small fry coming to the surface for air, casting the lure close to the school of the fry is a good fishing technique that can be very productive, and give some of the biggest Snakehead.
Sexing: There are no apparent sexual differences, when they are sexually mature and pair up the female is the largest.