Sports Fishing: Snakeheads – Toman (Giant Snakehead – Channa micropeltes) Fishing Part 5
Landing And Handling Tomans Properly
By: Phil Foo
In the past four issues we have covered a lot on how a toman feeds, how they behave, their characteristics, food they eat, as well as fishing them on lures, softbaits, spoons, and spinners. In this article we will look at handling them and landing them. Proper handling and landing of tomans is very important to make sure that both angler and fish are not hurt.
[ Never ever put your thumb in its mouth, the way one does with bass and some other toothless, or less toothy fishes… ]
First let us look at handling the fight. Tomans are dirty fighters too. They will not give you a handicap when fighting to live. They will swim towards snags and try to snag you. They are powerful swimmers too, especially the big ones. Once in a while they lose their sense of direction and swim out into the open, but that is not very common.
In battle with a feisty giant snakehead.
The problem with them snagging your line at the bottom of a lake, around some underwater structure, and breaking your line is this; tomans need to surface for air. If they are snagged at the bottom, exhausted from trying to free itself, and disoriented; it may drown. Yes, fishes can drown too. Hence, don’t break the line when it gets snagged. Instead use a lure retriever to help free the lure and fish. If all else fails, then you’ve got no choice. Just hope the fish gets to free itself in time.
Next, we look at landing the fish. You have fought the toman and bring it to the side of the boat. Now you want to bring it up. If you’ve got a scoop net, this will not be an issue. Just scoop it up and onto the deck or floor of your boat. But if you do not have a scoop net, use a good strong lip grip.
A giant snakehead landed in Royal Belum, Perak.
Tomans usually keeps its mouth close when it is near the boat making it impossible to insert the lip grip. Just wait for the toman to open its mouth and then insert the lip grip. Either tap of tap the snout of the toman softly to entice it to open its mouth slightly, just enough to insert the lip grip. Be patient with the fish and treat it with respect.
Never ever put your thumb in its mouth, the way one does with bass and some other toothless, or less toothy fishes. Doing so will end up with you having a bad injury. If the toman is a big one, you may lose your thumb. Just remember that they have very sharp teeth that can easily slice a fish in half. Just imagine what it can do to your thumb.
A big giant snakehead with all of its colours. This is the proper way to handle a giant snakehead.
When bringing the toman on board the boat, do support the belly of the fish. Bring the fish on board carrying horizontally and not vertically while supporting its belly. Carrying it up vertically just by holding it with the lip grip will injure the toman as its jaws are not made to carry its weight. Also the pressure may damage its spine. The best is to just leave it in the water and photograph it at the surface. Remove the hook there and let it go.
[ Release them as soon as possible especially if they are taken away from their fries. Ensure that they return to their fries… ]
But if you prefer to take a photo with it on the boat, carry it horizontally too by supporting its belly. Usually the fish will not struggle much at this point and are easily handled. Tomans can live out of water for some time as they are air breathers, but do release them as fast as you can as they need to be moist or wet. The slime covering their body is essential to them. Do not allow it to dry.
A good fighter this giant snakehead is.
Release them as soon as possible especially if they are taken away from their fries. Ensure that they return to their fries. This helps ensure that the fries do not end up being meals of other fishes. Also, we get to fish more of them in the future. After all, tomans are hard fighting fishes and they are plenty of fun to fish.
That’s it, we have come to the end of this five parts series, on fishing toman. While tomans are alien species in many other countries and may have scare the crap out of the folks there, here in South East Asia they are one of the hardest fighting freshwater local fish species. They are an awesome fish for freshwater sports fishing. So, please practise catch, photograph, and release when fishing toman.