A barbel fishing session has produced one of the biggest surprise specimens of another species ever from a UK river – a monster catfish weighing 94lb.
It was caught by big-fish specialist Neil Bridges during a session on the River Severn in Worcestershire.
Remarkably, the giant predator was landed using just 12lb mainline and a size 10 hook.
The 45-year-old Redditch angler battled for nearly an hour and and a half before having to hand lift it on to the bank, as it was way too big for his landing net.
“I thought it was a big barbel as anyone would expect fishing a boilie on this river, then a carp crossed my mind, but once I felt the sheer weight and power of the thing I knew something wasn’t right and this was something special,” a shocked Neil told Angling Times.
“I was just praying that I could wrestle it to the surface, so I could see what it was.”
He began his session on the Birmingham Anglers Association stretch of the river at Ripple by feeding around 10 PVA bags of pellets and boilies into the 12ft-deep channel.
After landing a couple of chub and barbel, all hell broke loose soon after darkness fell on the popular waterway.
“I’ve weighed countless big fish as I have caught catfish to 65lb on UK stillwaters before, but I have never seen anything like this,” he continued.
“At the end of it all I was a mess and as I let her go back into the Severn I was physically shaking.”
Ironically, the huge specimen bypassed Neil’s roach deadbait presented on a rig intended for the river’s famed zander and instead took his 18mm Dynamite Baits Source boilie on his barbel set-up.
Angling history is littered with stories of the capture or sightings of huge fish in rivers across the UK. A colossal common sturgeon weighing 167lb, caught from the Severn between Newport and the Severn Bridge in the late 1980s is on example.
Severn regular and Angling Times columnist Des Taylor was also shocked by the capture, but believes the fish illustrates the sheer unpredictability and excitement of river fishing.
“Neil’s fish just typifies what river fishing is all about, as you just don’t know what you are going to catch next,” he said.
“The waterway must be in good shape to support a creature like this. I know that a lot of small catfish were introduced to the river many years ago and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of those.”
The catch also highlights the possibility of even bigger predators swimming in our rivers, a claim that river specialist Bob Roberts also supports.
“Most of our bigger rivers hold catfish – I have heard numerous stories of experienced anglers losing giant fish, and I myself have hooked one on the Trent before,” said Bob.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are plenty more like Neil’s fish out there and maybe even bigger, as there isn’t much to stop them growing to huge proportions.”
The news comes in the same week that a huge 57lb catfish was caught in an open match on Farmer Jack Lake at the popular Docklow Pools complex in Herefordshire.
Meanwhile, a man who has spent 24 years searching for the Loch Ness monster has claimed that a huge resident wels catfish could be the solution to the famous Scottish legend.