Huge catfish creates havoc at Hayfield Lakes

The manager of leading commercial fishery Hayfield Lakes has called on specimen anglers to help him remove a huge catfish which is eating its way through his stock of carp and silver fish, as well as terrorising other wildlife.

Top match angler Rob Hitchens, who took over the running of Hayfield Lakes in Doncaster earlier this year, gained first-hand experience of the ‘rogue resident’ last week when it ate a duck off the surface in front of his eyes.

Now the former Fish O’Mania winner is eager to employ the services of dedicated big-fish anglers to catch and relocate the predator before it wreaks further havoc at the South Yorkshire complex.

Rob said: “I was fishing on Island Lake and there were five mallard ducks in the margins of the next peg. Suddenly, there was a big splash and one of the ducks disappeared! At first I thought that it had dived down for food, but then I saw a large spade-like tail rise from the depths and slap down on the surface. A few seconds later a plume of feathers came to the top, just like something out of a Jaws movie. Another angler, Barry Oliver, was sat behind me and actually saw the duck get grabbed!”

Although catfish appeared in the venue several years ago, it was thought that they had all been removed when it was drained.

“They’ve obviously bred and cats to 14lb have been caught in the last year, but this one fish has outgrown everything else. It has been seen cruising near the surface by several people, who have estimated it at somewhere between 40lb and 60lb. I need to get rid of it because something that size is bound to eat a few fish and it doesn’t belong in a commercial. I intend to organise a series of one-off night sessions where a team of specimen anglers can come up here to fish specifically for it,” he added.

Simon Clarke, secretary of the Catfish Conservation Society, is no stranger to helping to relocate outsized ‘moggies’, although is adamant that alleged problems with the species are often blown out of all proportion.

“Catfish are omnivorous and, as such, it’s not really necessary to remove them from such fisheries - they are present in plenty of waters where they cause no problems - pike are often more of an issue than catfish. That said, we have members in the north who will be happy to come down and fish for it we have done this sort of thing on other venues, and have a licensed fishery in the Midlands where we can relocate the catfish. Obviously, the relevant Section 30 requirements will have to be met prior to the operation taking place,” he said.