Amazing gravel pit haul topped by 9lb 10oz eel

Steve Ricketts brought ‘a terrible year’ to a spectacular end by taking the finest catch of big eels in history, topped by a massive 9lb 10oz fish.

With just a handful of small eels to show for more than 25 nights fishing leading up to the bumper session, the 48-year-old decided to head to a ‘rock hard’ venue he hadn’t visited for more than a decade.

Targeting a spot 25yds from the bank with an ‘experimental hookbait’, the Catford-based railway engineer took eels of 2lb, 3lb, 5lb 5oz, 5lb 10oz and 7lb 3oz, as well as the big one.

He said: “I’d just returned from a five-night session and, after getting washed and showered, reconsidered my venues and thought ‘If I’m going to struggle I may as well do it on a hard water’. So off I went again to a Colne Valley pit I hadn’t fished for 14 years.”

With a three-pounder on the first night, Steve took a brace of fives the following day, and was in the process of unhooking one of these when he got the take that would smash his old pb of 6lb 13oz out of sight.

“I’d just unhooked the 5lb 5oz eel when one of my other rods ripped off. This was an entirely different beast, and tore off 20yds of line. Nearly 10mins later I saw it when it turned broadside, so I waded in up to my chest and netted it. Shaking, I put it on the scales and when it went 9lb 10oz I was speechless - I had to have a drink and do some silly dancing up and down the bank!”

“The following night another angler asked if my next target was a double. I said no, my previous best was 6lb 13oz so I would like to get a ‘seven’. By 3am I had a 7lb 3oz eel in the sack! It’s crazy – I’d been trying to get past the 7lb barrier for over 20 years and then I do it twice in one session!” added Steve.

l Steve Ricketts is the author of ‘Eels: The Final Frontier’, available from Medlar Press by logging on to