Record eel claim has been thrown into doubt

The angling community has this week been buzzing with rumours of a new British record eel.

Reported to weigh in at a monstrous 13lb 9oz, the big fish is thought to have come from a Colne Valley stillwater and, if genuine, would dwarf the current record that has stood for 32 years, by an unprecedented 2lb 7oz.

Further speculation points to the fish being a big eel thought to have been caught from a water in Harefield, Herts, five years ago. The fish was not submitted for the record at the time due to angling club politics, but the angler has now been given the green light.

However history is littered with dubious big eel captures. And with details of the catch shrouded in mystery, along with further rumours that suggest the fish looks much smaller than the claimed size, Angling Times spoke to a number of well-respected eel experts to add some reality to the hype.

“I would say it’s probably a mistake,” said eel angler Steve Ricketts. “I’ve been speaking to all my contacts, the big names in the eel world, and they have heard nothing. If I’d caught a potential record eel, I’d tell as many people as I could. No-one in the eel community seems to know anything about it.

“Having said that, the Colne Valley is definitely capable of producing a fish of that size, but you have to be careful with eels. I’ve seen people miss-guess weights, weigh fish wrongly and even bring conger eels to the side of waters to take photos and claim a record.

“It could well be the fish caught five years ago, though. That might explain a few things and why people have not heard anything.”

Rumours also indicate that the fish could well have been taken by a tench angler who caught the big ‘snake’ by accident - a detail which, according to captor of numerous big UK eels, Barry McConnell, is fairly unlikely.

“I’ve caught eels of that weight and bigger in New Zealand and they fight a lot differently to smaller eels. They can just lie on the bottom and you have to work very hard to move them, so it would have had to have been caught by design on big tackle or it was one very lucky angler,” said Barry.

“As far as the rumours about the fish not looking the weight, a big eel like that would be very impressive, even the worst pictures would show it as a monster ¬ you couldn’t mistake the size of a fish that big.”