Every year, at Hat Krai Village of the northernmost province of Chiang Rai between April and May, Thai and Laotian fishermen will be very busy casting their 250-metre long nylon net to catch the Gian Catfish in the Mekong River
The Giant Catfish is known in Thai as “Pla Buk”. This giant of freshwater and the King of Mekong River can grow up to 300 kilogrammes and 3 metre after 15 years. During this period of the year as it is the mating season the fish will migrate up the river to spawn. Unfortunately, on the way they become the victims of the deathtrap laid by the fishermen of the two countries.
In fact, before catching the fish, the Brahmin rituals must be held in order to please the Father-spirit of Pla Buk. It is believed ceremony. After performing the rituals, Thai and Laotian fishermen will build temporary bamboo shelter on their respective islands. After each crew has offered a chicken and local-made liquor to the guardian spirit of their boat, they then burn a special herb to drive away the evil ghosts from the net. Not the hunting begins.
The fishing rotation is decided by a draw. Everybody is waiting for his turn enthusiastically and immediately after a Thai team has gone, a Laotian boat is ready to push off.
It is said that the problem in its flesh is good for nourishing the brain much more than any other animal protein and it is also believed that whoever tastes the fish will have a long life and become clever. So its meat has become favourite and expensive dish served in leading restaurants in nearby province and also in Bangkok. Each season about 25-30 giant catfishes will be caught by fishermen of the two countries.
The fishing season also attracts a lot of attention from both local and foreign tourists who are enthusiastic to see the freshwater monster. Unless the fish faces extinction, the fishing season will be carried on from generation to generation of both countries.