Goonch Catfish

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The goonch's wing-like pectoral fins.
Animal Planet/DCL

Hooking Goonch Catfish

A hard knock signaled the first interest, felt in my fingertip on the line. Then a pause before a quick exploratory rip. Then a much longer pause before a confident steady pull as I dropped the rod to give line, then swept back hard.

At first, it didn’t seem to know it was hooked. So instead of waking it up by applying extreme force, I just applied steady pressure to try and ease it away from the surge near the far bank, where it would have been very hard to extract. It came into the back eddy, but then it made several powerful lunges.

All the time it was steadily getting nearer to the tail of the pool. If it escaped into the run below, that would be the end of it. I could never bring it back up against that current, and I couldn’t follow it on the bank, as this turned into a near vertical cliff.

I piled on all the pressure I could, and it rose up in the water. A dark, flag-like tail broke the surface, then it plunged again and I couldn’t hold it….

Landing a Monster

Much later I had it under the rod tip, in slack water, but couldn’t lift it. Most fish weigh nothing in water, but not this one. We had to drop rocks next to it to persuade it to swim up a shelf into shallow water, where we finally saw it.

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