A lamb’s heart, 6lb test-curve rod and 80lb braided line are not what you’d expect to find in a UK eel angler’s tackle box, but this is what Barry McConnell used to land this incredible specimen.
Weighing a massive 21lb 10oz, the giant predator was one of 14 double-figure eels banked by Barry and friend Peter Drabble during an unforgettable trip across the globe in an attempt to break a world record.
They travelled nearly 11,000 miles to New South Wales, Australia, where they endured six weeks’ camping in a bid to beat the species record of 25lb 12oz. However, their trip didn’t start as planned.
“After reading internet reports of anglers being snapped up by huge eels, we headed to a reservoir in the Snowy Mountains with high expectations,” Barry said.
“Six days later neither of us had a fish to show for our efforts and we realised that the Aussies had been releasing water from the lake into a river. Most of the previously landlocked eels must have escaped, so we used our back-up plan which was to fish some dams nearby.”
The move proved a masterstroke as they spent the remaining month fishing three lakes before tackling rivers in the State of Victoria, finishing the trip with 32 eels.
It wasn’t just their catches which raised eyebrows, though, as they used tackle that even a sea angler might find too beefy.
“We needed the heavy rods and strong braided line as we were pulling hard-fighting eels through weed which grew 14ft deep,” he continued.
“We used size 2 hooks, big enough to hook bait such as chicken fillet or lambs’ hearts from the local butchers, but soft enough so that they would straighten if they were snagged on the underwater trees.
“There was no time to minimise our gear. We slept in one-man tents with no bed chairs and had to cut the arms off the landing net so that we could fit it in the suitcase on the flight over and glue it together when we arrived,” he added.
Buoyed by their success, Barry and Peter are planning to return in search of bigger specimens.
“We have looked at Queensland where the climate is hotter, so I believe there are much bigger fish than the record,” Barry added.
“However there are crocodiles in Queensland, so we would have to fish carefully,” added Barry. A video of their trip will shortly be available on YouTube.