Angler Catches Biggest Freshwater Fish Ever Documented in U.K

A group of British anglers recently landed an absolute giant of a Wels catfish. According to The Telegraph, it’s likely the biggest freshwater fish ever caught on a rod and reel in the United Kingdom. 

Darren Reitz, a garbageman from Rainham, Essex, was fishing with three friends at Chigborough Lakes Nature Reserve on Saturday, April 27. The group started fishing at 8:30 a.m. but didn’t get a nibble until 10:30 p.m. 

Their patience paid off. The fish that bit turned out to be a monster. “I’d just changed my bait after a long day of catching nothing and it was raining quite a bit, which puts pressure on the water so the fish come up to the surface. My friends started panicking as it was clearly a big fish,” Reitz told The Telegraph. “About 50 mins later, I pulled that huge catfish out of the water.”

The whopper fish weighed in at 142 pounds. The fish stands to break the British Record Fish Committee (BRFC) record for catfish—a 62-pounder caught in 1997. It’s important to note that the BRFC closed its record listing for catfish in 2000 to discourage stocking of the nonnative species. The record-keeping organization recently relented and reopened the record listing in November 2023.

Wels catfish are native to central, southern, and eastern Europe. According to Angling Direct, the species is not native to the United Kingdom. The fish were introduced there from Germany in 1880 and are currently found in many waterways throughout the territory. The species can grow to up to 10 feet long. The current IGFA All Tackle World Record is a 297-pounder pulled out of Italy’s River Po in 2010. 

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“I’m over the moon. I can’t stop talking about it,” said Reitz of his record-breaking catch. “You never think you will catch something like that. And that is the joy of fishing…I was just in the right place at the right time.”

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