The silver flying fox (Crossocheilus reticulatus) is an elongated silver fish with subtle markings and a dark spot at the base of the tail. In the west the silver flying fox is known as an aquarium fish. In its native range in Asia the silver flying fox is a common food fish. This fish can be caught on hook and line with a little effort.
Most silver flying fox are harvested with nets. They are caught on hooks too. Though normally they are caught by people fishing for other species or simply fishing for whatever bites as anglers rarely target the silver flying fox specifically. They can typically be found along with lots of other fish like the climbing perch. So you can expect to find them in a mixed catch.
How to find and identify the silver flying fox
Silver flying fox are silver fish with a slender and sleek appearance. The scales along the body appear to be outlined in black and there is a large black spot at the base of the tail. The fins themselves are translucent. Silver flying fox can reportedly reach up to 7 inches in length (18 cm). The average specimen seems to be a lot closer to 4 inches (10 cm). At least in my experience.
The silver flying fox makes its home in flowing waters of the Mekong, Chao Phraya and Mae Klong River basins. So it can be found from the south of China down through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. I’ve had the most luck catching these fish in slower areas and back eddies of medium sized streams. They hang in the lower part of the water column or right at the bottom. But I have also found them in some ponds after the rainy season.
This silver flying fox took a small piece of worm
Most of the literature I have found says the silver flying fox prefers clear flowing water. I have caught several of these fish in Cambodia. Many were in flowing streams. But none were found in clear water. That being said the fish were all caught after the rainy season when most water is discolored. The same waters do clear up at other times of the year. Though I have never found the fish during those clear water days.
Silver flying fox are also commonly described as algae eaters by sources related to the aquarium trade. I have no doubt that they do eat algae. But since I have repeatedly caught them on small pieces of earthworm I would add that they also eat small insects and invertebrates. It seems that they are omnivores with a varied diet. That’s pretty common among cyprinids.
How to catch silver flying fox
Since silver flying fox are on average a somewhat small fish, a microfishing setup is perhaps the most appropriate tackle. On the other hand the fish can max out at 7 inches. That is the legal size to harvest a trout in the state of Pennsylvania. So they can obviously be caught on traditional tackle too. At least when they grow to a larger size.
In their native range, silver flying fox are most often captured by net by people looking for food. But they are also caught by people fishing with hook and line. Small hooks and baits catch the most silver flying fox. Specialized micro tackle makes catching this fish as easy as locating them. Thought that is sometimes easier said than done.
I have caught quite a few silver flying fox in Cambodia. I found them in the main stream flowing out of West Baray and other small ponds around Siem Reap province. As I noted above, I have always caught them after the rainy season when water was abundant. I have not caught an of these fish during the dry season. So they are definitely easier to find when there is more water around.
Silver flying fox are easy to catch with a small piece of earthworm on a small hook. I normally catch them on a microfishing float rig. I attach a snelled microfishing hook below a small split shot and a float. When I want to catch silver flying fox and other species like mystus nigriceps catfish I adjust my rig so that my bait is just off of the bottom. I typically catch silver flying fox a few foot off of the bank. They’re typically a little further out than other species like climbing perch and croaking gourami that prefer to stay in the sluggish water right at the edge of the water.