Do you love big bluegill?
Here is your tilapia.
The first fish in question is a giant gourami and a rather small one at that. Guess they get to be over 10 pounds. One tough fish even on heavy bass gear.
Now that's a nice tilapia!
Having never heard of a giant gourami before, I googled to learn that it's native range is south and southeast Asia, and that they are kept as aquarium fish. Looks like people are dumping them when they get too big, unless you've been fishing in somebody's aquarium :)
Im guessing you live in Florida or somewhere warm. From the look of it, that's a Gourami. They don't live in temperate waters - the cold gets to 'em.
Many variations of these fish have been imported as aquarium specimens. You can buy small ones at Wal Mart or any pet store and I've kept them on and off over the years. Many people also keep these same fish in their back yard ponds for mosquito control. They will thrive in nothing more than a small wading pool, in fact, throughout the warm season.
Many people even breed them this way, as they are bubble nesters. As the name implies, they build and maintain nests of bubbles to hold thier eggs in still, calm waters. It's fascinating to watch them tend to these nests and keep them floating. In Southeast Asia they are common in rice paddies and the backwater ditches that feed the paddies.
Both Gourami's and Siamese Fighting Fish (Bettas), belong to a group called labyrinth fishes. Their skulls are like a sponge, made up of of many small, hollow cavities. They can take air from the surface and hold it in this spongy "labyrinth" of bone and then extract oxygen from this store of air. This means they can tolerate stagnant waters with low oxygen contents, environments that would kill other fishes.
Larger ones have been imported, certainly, much like the popular Amazon Oscar cichlids. Eventually, people tire of them or release them into the wild for other reasons - where they grow to catchable size. I recall mine would eat small insects and flies; they relish mosquito larvae, for sure. Small lures and jigs that resemble tiny invertebrates should be enough to catch them. You might even be able to get one on a cricket!
I also know that they are eaten in SE Asia as food (which can safely be said of just about everything in Asia). Whether WE might want to is another matter, I suppose.
Thanks on all guesses and good info.
We were intentionally targeting the fish with a slip float set-up and piece of banana for bait. The location was Thailand. As for the fly rod comment, we got several on the fly rod and they were a riot. Do I dare say a harder fight than (or at least equal to) a big bluegill?
Never ate one but imagine they would be tasty.
Except for the size of the scales Looks like my Mother in law... Just kidding Bruce...
(Hers are larger)...