Catlocarpio siamensis, is a giant species of
carp weighing from
40 to more than 160kg each and subsists on seaweeds, marine algae
and shellfish, and follows a migration pattern from Cambodia to the
Mekong Delta in Vietnam
The giant fish is
concentrated in the Vam Nao confluence – where the Tien and Hau
rivers meet – home to many deep waters holes that provide suitable
shelter for this type of fish after it migrates in from Tonle Sap
lake in Cambodia.
are two types of Caho:
and hoa ca
of which ca
ho den is
preferred because of tastier fillets.
What has driven the
caho to near extinction
in the wild is the fishing season, which begins
in the first lunar month and lasts for four months. Experienced
hunters believe the caho usually feed on the
13th, 17th, 18th, 25th
and 27th days of every month.
Fishermen spread a 70m
long and 12m wide net in the river, believing that setting up a
channel to catch the caho in advance means they claim the
right to the fishing area.
contributing to their extinction is that the caho do not
be baited for, but like to run
headlong into the nets to show its strength even when the tide ebbs, making them an easy
“I’ve never seen a fish
like the caho. It rushes towards the net and throws itself
up and down many times once caught,” said Sau Vien, a veteran caho hunter, who caught a 155kg caho in 2000.
Binh Thuy commune in
Chau Phu district of An Giang province has more than 60 caho
fishermen, who have each caught 30-40 caho each.
A man named Nam Thu, also known as Nam CaHo has caught a record
Thu said he caught his
first caho in 1980 while spreading nets on a fishing area he
inherited from his father. “It weighed more than 150kg and sold for
one tael of gold (one tael = 1.25 oz) at that time” Thu recalled,
adding he was so happy he never slept that night.
Thu said that after
catching the sixth fish, he decided to quit working for the commune
police to become a professional caho hunter.
He said fortune
continued to smile on him rather than on the fish as he later caught
dozens of caho ranging in size from 50kg to
According to custom, if
you catch a fish weighing less than 100kg, you must donate a pair of
ducks as offerings to the River God and a pig’s head if catching a
Unfortunately, all of
the tradition that surrounds catching a fish of this size over the
past decades has lead to over fishing, and sadly the caho is
now in danger of extinction.
Many fishermen have had
to turn to other work, having fished the supply of caho dry,
as the number of caho left in the river waters weighing over
100kg can be counted on one hand.
Even the King of CaHo,
Nam Thu, is changing his work, having gone some years with catching
only one of the giant species during a whole fishing
Thu recently sold his
two fishing areas for 0.6 of a tael of gold, even less than his
prized 150kg catch back in 1980.
Reported by Thanh Dung –
Translated by Thu Thuy