No eel form, then an 8lb 2oz fish out of the blue

GAMBLING on a water that had never before been fished for eels paid off handsomely for Mark Salt when he banked this incredible
8lb 2oz fish from a Middlesex stillwater.
The Hertfordshire angler had spent more than four years trying to beat his personal best, and he finally struck gold on a stillwater that had no form for the species.
Fully aware that eels can turn up in the most unlikely of spots, the National Anguilla Club committee member signed up to a syndicate lake noted for its big carp.
Early sessions failed to bear fruit, but he was given reason for encouragement when he eventually banked a 6lb 1oz fish.
Confident that bigger specimens were swimming beneath the surface, Mark returned days later in less than ideal circumstances.
He told Angling Times: “There was high pressure, and a clear night
was forecast. Both those elements meant that the odds were stacked against me.
“I baited up with a bed of dead maggots and cast out a Dyson rig to fish 6ins off bottom with hair-rigged lobworms on a circle hook.”
A couple of dropped runs in quick succession gave him renewed hope that a big eel was around, and confirmation came when he struck gold at the third attempt.
“I gave the fish a lot of stick to try to get it in quickly,” he said.
“Initially I thought it was a tench or a carp. As it came to the net I realised it was a big eel, but I didn’t appreciate the true size of it until I lifted it out.”
Steve Terry’s current eel record of 11lb 2oz, set in 1978 in Hampshire, has stood for more than 35 years, and while Mark concedes that beating it will be difficult, he believes it isn’t totally out of the question.
He said: “This lake is over 100 years old and crawling with natural food, so it is entirely feasible that it could produce a new British best.”