This is a picture of what is thought to be the biggest eel ever caught by design – all 9lb 2oz of it.
The hugely impressive creature, which could be more than 90 years old, was caught by species expert Barry McConnell from a Midlands stillwater and marks the pinnacle of the 53-year-old’s fishing career – one which has seen him take eels to 19lb in Australia.
It was just reward for Barry, who has spent 71 nights on the venue over the past four years, taking 28 eels along the way and suffering 50 blanks. A dead gudgeon presented 1.5ft off the bottom on a Dyson rig with a resistance-free set-up incorporating one of his own rollover indicators proved the winning combination.
“I knew I was connected to a biggie straight away – I had to fight for every inch of line, all the way to the net. It reminded me of catching huge eels down under!” said Barry, who acts as the social officer for the National Anguila Club and had a previous personal best eel of 7lb 4oz.
“It was caught during the full moon period, which is usually the best for targeting the species. The water has no pike and few perch, but a massive population of silverfish and fry for the eels to feed on.
“It was only 42.5ins long, but incredibly fat, with a girth of 12ins. I have taken much longer eels in the past – for example a 3lb 11oz fish which was 44ins long but only had a 7ins girth,” he added.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Barry, who lives near Ellesmere in Shropshire, has now set his sights firmly on catching an even bigger specimen.
“This is right at the very top of my catches, way above the giants I caught in Australia – they were only practice for catching this incredible fish. But I haven’t finished yet, I want a double-figure eel.
“I guess I will have to be particularly selective in my future choice of venue!” he said.
Barry used 15lb line, a 3.25lb test curve rod, a 20lb wire trace and a size 6 barbless hook. He revealed that the eel was hooked in the corner of the mouth and swam off strongly on release.
See next week’s AT for Barry’s in-depth account of the rigs and tactics he used to catch his monster eel.