ONE of the top 10 largest eels ever caught in the UK has been banked by a specialist eel hunter at a whopping 10lb 2oz.
62-year-old Steve Pitts caught the giant fish while targeting an undisclosed low-stock water which he believed held specimens of the species, but nothing could prepare him for a catch that he’s described as the Holy Grail of eel fishing.
Best known to his friends and fellow National Anguilla Club members as the ‘Eel Man’, the Leicestershire-based angler told us he’s been targeting eels since 1979, with this fish now the highlight of 40 years of hard work.
“My previous best was 7lb 9oz, which is the fish of a lifetime, but this fish left me truly gobsmacked,” he said.
“It put up an amazing fight and took me five attempts to get it in the net due to the sheer size of it. Normally I have no trouble handling eels, but this was so powerful and thick that I couldn’t grip it.”
Steve’s new PB measured an astonishing 48ins long with a 12ins girth and fell to an Arma Mesh bag packed with chunks of chopped fish and threaded onto the hook. Fishing these baits on tight lines with short hooklinks ensured a firm hook hold.
“This method is something I’ve perfected over the years and has always given me a high lip-hooking ratio and enabled me to hit twitchy bites,” Steve adds.
“It’s difficult to determine the age of this fish, it is possible it could be 80-years-old, but I’ve found that the older eels are generally longer with no girth.”
Steve’s remarkable catch falls just 1lb shy of the current British Record of 11lb 2oz, taken by Steve Terry in 1976.