Photos: Catching A 400-lb Piraiba

Check out these amazing photos and video clips of big fish angler Larry Dahlberg beaching what should be the world's largest catfish ever landed on a rod and reel. Jerry Gibbs reports.Outdoor Life Online Editor
This was Larry's third trip to Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana) which lies between Guyana and French Guiana. The Corentyne forms the Guyana-Suriname border, flowing north 450 miles before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The area's remote rivers harbor peacock bass, tarpon, wolf fish, and lots of prehistoric-looking catfish species. There's little commercial fishing on the river, and this is what first attracted Larry to country.Outdoor Life Online Editor
While it's true that a few bigger catfish swim in the world's fresh waters and have been dynamited, found dead, or found tangled in nets (as was this 646-pound giant Mekong catfish in Thailand in 2005), no catfish the size of Dahlberg's has ever been beaten on sporting tackle before.Outdoor Life Online Editor
And Larry was handicapped before he even started fishing. The only available boat was a bastard fusion of the bow and stern of two older vessels; an extremely unwieldy tub. Originally Dahlberg wanted to use a stand-up tuna rod with harness and gimbal to target the lau-lau. But when he saw the boat he realized he'd never be able to maneuver around the stern locked into big-game tackle, especially if the fish ran beneath the slow-responding craft.Outdoor Life Online Editor
So here's the rig he used instead, a Torsa 20 reel with a drive gear larger than that found a 130-pound-class off-shore Tiagra. "It's a boat winch," he said. The rod he chose was a medium-light, 5-foot, 6-inch Shimano Trevally Butterfly Jig rod that bent down near the butt, which put leverage close to his hands, giving him close to one-on-one pulling power. There would be no gimbal belt, something Larry dearly wished he had once the fight started.Outdoor Life Online Editor
The lau-lau ate a whole two-pound kubi (Guayanan croaker), a sheepshead-looking fish that Dahlberg caught on shrimp using a bottom rig. The bait was impaled on an Owner Super Mutu circle hook ("You could lift a small car engine with it") tied to 130-pound Suffix Mono. He'd spooled the reel only half full to increase the drag force (reduced spool diameter equals heavier drag).Outdoor Life Online Editor
Dahlberg finally pulled the fish close, where outfitter Cesare Calor slipped in a lip gaff. The beast shook Cesare like a rag doll. Incredibly, the entire battle took little more than five minutes, but then Dahlberg has brought huge, fast-running marlin and catapulting sturgeon to the boat in less than ten. If the lau-lau had been able to run to the fast water, there's no telling how long the fight might have run.Outdoor Life Online Editor
As they towed the fish to the beach a second head shake partially dislocated Cesare's shoulder, but when its belly touched the sand, the it rolled like a legless pig. "Then I tried to get purchase to help lift the thing and my thumb went up its bung hole! And there was plenty room to spare," said Dahlberg. "It was disgusting. Everybody thought it was a riot."Outdoor Life Online Editor

Check out these amazing photos and video clips of big fish angler Larry Dahlberg beaching what should be the world's largest catfish ever landed on a rod and reel.