Guideline River Monsters Season 1 Episode 2 : Killer Catfish

Extreme angler Jeremy Wade searches for the goonch — a potentially huge, man-eating species of catfish in the foothills of the Himalayas. It's the biggest and toughest challenge he's ever faced.

Bagarius yarelli

Maximum Length: Up to 6 feet
Maximum Weight: Over 150 pounds

Maneater or Misunderstood? The goonch catfish, much like its other catfish relatives, can grow to an enormous size and weight. But unlike others, this river monster makes its home in the Great Kali River running between India and Nepal, a stretch of water that is often used to dispose of funeral pyres after Hindu funeral rites. Theory contends that the goonch has long scavenged the half-burned human corpses from these funeral pyres. This diet may have helped the goonch — or at least a few members of the species — grow to unusually huge proportions. It may also have led the goonch to develop a taste for human flesh, which may now be fueling frightening attacks on live humans.

Reports of Attacks on Humans: The goonch stands accused of a number of human attacks, including the death of an 18-year-old Nepali in 2008, who was dragged down into the river by what witnesses described as an "elongated pig." Two similar attacks were reported in 1988.

Jeremy Wade's Tips for Catching Goonch Catfish: "Having caught some goonch before, I knew their tactics on the end of a line. They don't throw themselves dramatically out of the water and tire themselves out, like a 'sporting' fish. They just hunker down and let the current flow over their huge flat head and wing-like pectoral fins, practically gluing themselves to the bottom."

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