Eel fishing fanatic Steve Ricketts became the first angler in history to land two eels over the 9lb barrier when he netted a brace of huge specimens weighing 9lb 13oz and 9lb 1oz from a southern stillwater.
The larger of the two fish is the third biggest ever landed by design, measuring 47ins in length with a girth of 11ins and was taken over a bed of home-made groundbait containing minced fish, egg whites, fishmeal and flavourings.
It was raining so hard that the specialist from London was barely able to hear the sound of his alarm as the huge eel, that beats his personal best for the species by 3oz, powered off with his air-injected lobworm hookbait just a few hours after he arrived for a four-day session.
Little did he realise that there was more to come, and while the National Anguilla Club member was still trying to take in the ‘best catch of his life,’ he hooked into and landed a second fish of 9lb 1oz making him the first UK angler ever to bank two specimens over the 9lb mark during a session.
“The power of the 9lb 13oz eel was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It flat-rodded me as soon as I struck despite the fact I was using a rod with a test curve of 2.75lb,” Steve told Angling Times.
“It was raining so hard that I could hardly see, so I just scooped the net under the huge vortex made by the eel and hoped for the best. Luckily it went in first time.
“When I peeled back the mesh of the landing net I really thought that I had my first ever double, but there’s no way in the world that I felt a single ounce of disappointment. Many people may not understand how rare fish like this are, but the fact that a couple of my eel fishing mates drove all the way down from Birmingham just to see them shows how much this means, not only to myself, but also to other fanatics.”
In a manic spell of angling he also landed three other fish of 6lb 14oz, 5lb 13oz and 4lb 4oz before the sport died down.
“I didn’t have a single bite during the last two days, but nothing else mattered after that. In fact, I wouldn’t care if I didn’t catch another fish for the rest of the season,” he added.
The historic capture was witnessed and photographed by respected big-fish angler and British Record Fish Committee member Andy Nellist, who was blown away by the capture.
“I feel privileged to have witnessed the capture of two such stunning fish by a truly great and dedicated angler,” said Andy.
“Not only is Steve the first angler ever to have caught two eels over 9lb, but he’s now had three overall and that is nothing short of incredible.”