An Italian angler could soon be a new world record holder after reeling in a massive catfish from a flooded river.
“Everything started as a normal day of fishing, Alessandro Biancardi, a pro fisherman with MADCAT fishing team, said in a May 31 release.
Biancardi set out solo onto the Po River — which runs across northern Italy — in a small fishing boat and started probing the muddy waters with a rod and reel, he said. A few casts later, something big and powerful bit down on his hook.
“The fish stood still some seconds before starting a very complicated fight,” he said, having to battle the fish, as well as strong currents and debris in the swollen river.
Though he could feel its strength, he didn’t catch a glimpse of the beast until 40 minutes into the struggle, Biancardi said. The sight of it jolted him.
It was a wels catfish more than 9 feet long, according to the release.
“When it surfaced for the first time, I really realized that I hooked a monster, adrenaline started pumping hard and the fear of losing it almost sent me into a panic,” he said. “I was alone facing the biggest catfish I ever seen in 23 years.”
He tried grabbing the fish by hand, but it was too powerful.
Biancardi maneuvered to shallow water with his prize in tow and climbed out onto the shore, he said. With the help of solid footing, he finished the fight.
“I called my friend Marco to reach me and to warn the guys … I was sure that the fish I caught was special,” Biancardi said.
He was right. The catfish measured 285cm, he said, making it 4cm longer than the current wels catfish world record for length.
The current record recognized by the International Game Fish Association is held by two German anglers who reeled in a catfish the measured 281cm in April, Outdoor Life reported. It was also caught on the Po River, according to Angling Times.
Biancardi’s fish’s weight remains a mystery, as Biancardi let it go before it could be put on a scale.
“I was very curious about the weight but I feared to stress too much that rare specimen so I decided to safely release it, hoping it could give another angler the same joy he gave to me,” he said.
The largest wels catfish by weight recognized by the IGFA was caught in the Po River as well, in 2010, and weighed in at nearly 298 pounds, records show.
An official measurement of Biancardi’s fish was taken with 10 witnesses present, the release said.
The documentation was sent to the IGFA to be certified. It qualifies to beat the IGFA’s new catch-and-release length record but not the 2010 record for weight, Field and Stream reported.