By Jeff Pfeiffer
Giant fish are back in July — and not in another Syfy original movie. National Geographic Channel is debuting two new real-life series about people in search of the largest fish on the planet.
Monster Fish airs Mondays beginning July 19 and stars familiar NGC face Zeb Hogan, an explorer and conservationist who directs The Megafishes Project and who has already appeared on several of the network’s Hooked: Monster Fish specials. Zeb is on a five-year study to find and research the world’s largest freshwater fish. “I’m on a mission to discover why these monsters are disappearing … before it’s too late,” he says.
Premiere episodes of Monster Fish include:
“Flying Carp” — July 19, 10pm ET/PT. Flying fish from Asia are invading America’s waterways. Zeb investigates the mystery of how and why these fish are taking over, and what can be done to stop them. They’ve spread from Louisiana to Wisconsin, east to Cincinnati and as far west as South Dakota. They are just 40 miles from Lake Michigan, where they could infiltrate the entire Great Lakes system and push into Canada. With no natural predators, they are growing to mega proportions, jumping 10 feet in the air and injuring boaters, while threatening the natural order.
“Alligator Gar” — July 26, 10pm ET/PT. Zeb searches for one of North America’s toothiest and most misunderstood monster fish — the alligator gar. These bizarre creatues reach lengths of 10 feet and have a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth, but they recently disappeared from their northern ranges and are currently vanishing from the bayous and marshes of the southern U.S.
“Jungle Catfish” — August 2, 10pm ET/PT. Zeb teams up with kayaking expert Trip Jennings and a team of Brazilian scientists to tackle the Rio Roosevelt in western Brazil. The goal is to complete a comprehensive study of one of the Amazon’s most remote jungle rivers, and discover what monster fish are lurking there. Within a diverse ecosystem, the team hopes to find giant piranhas, painted catfish and perhaps a new species of fish previously unknown to science.
“Giants of Thailand” — August 9, 10pm ET/PT. Zeb travels to Thailand in search of 600-pound Siamese carp, 10-foot-long Mekong catfish and the endangered giant freshwater stingray.
In July, NGC also debuts the series Fish Warrior, premiering July 26 and airing Mondays. Fish Warrior follows adventure angler and world-record fisherman Jakub Vágner to remote parts of the world in search of the biggest fish. Vágner’s records include one for a catch of 147 catfish in 40 hours, and another for capturing the Arapaima gigas in the Amazon River basin. His fishing endeavors have succeeded in proving the mass existence of catfish in the Czech Republic, and he has become one of the key figures of the catch-and-release practice.
Upcoming episodes of Fish Warrior include:
“Amazon Giant” — July 26, 9pm ET/PT. Vágner treks deep into the Amazon in search of a prehistoric river monster that has withstood the test of time, essentially remaining unchanged since the Jurassic period — the arapaima. These predators can grow to massive proportions and eat just about anything, even jumping out of the water to snatch up birds and monkeys. During the expedition, Vágner makes the catch of a lifetime when he reels in the biggest arapaima he’s ever seen, a 10-foot-long specimen measuring nearly five feet in girth and weighing 325 pounds.
“Piraiba Catfish, Napo River, Ecuador” — August 2, 9pm ET/PT. Vágner ventures into the world’s largest and densest rain forest to go head-to-head with the giant piraiba catfish. These megafish are some of the largest catfish on earth, with record breakers stretching nearly 12 feet long and weighing 440 pounds. They wear 3-foot-long whiskers and are known to eat monkeys, large birds, cats, dogs and other catfish.
“Nile Perch, Lake Turkana, Kenya” — August 9, 9pm ET/PT. Vágner seeks the Nile Perch in Kenya’s Lake Turkana. This megafish grows to about six feet and weighs 300 pounds, and is a popular export for the country. He meets up with local fishermen to track the elusive creature and get a taste for the Kenyan culture.
Credit: National Geographic Channel