Amateur angler lands 143-pound monster catfish in UK — and may set national record

Patience is a virtue, and nobody knows that better now than Darren Reitz.

The London native spent most of April 27 at a lake in Maldon, Essex with a slack line and an empty hook.

“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,” Reitz told the Telegraph.

Less than an hour later, he was setting a potential national record.

Reitz, a 34-year-old sanitation worker, started fishing in 2017, he told British news outlets.

“I’m an amateur, I go for the peace and quiet, and if I catch, I catch,” he told the BBC.

After spending most of his Saturday without so much as a nibble, he tried a different bait in hopes of making his day a success.

Finally, his line began to tug, and soon his friends were surrounding him as they saw that something big was on the other end, Reitz told outlets.

“My wrist is still hurting from the reeling,” Reitz told the BBC. “Three of my friends got into the water with nets because it was that big and I was so worried we would lose it.”

The “monster” fish fought Reitz for 50 minutes until it was finally hauled to shore, outlets reported.

Chigboro Farm & Fisheries, which operates the lake where the Wels catfish was caught, said it weighed 143 pounds, likely the largest ever caught in the United Kingdom, according to a Facebook post.

“I’m over the moon, I can’t stop talking about it, you never think you will catch something like that. And that is the joy of fishing, I guess I was just in the right place at the right time,” Reitz told the Telegraph.

Paul Tallowin, co-owner of Chigboro Farm & Fisheries, told the BBC catfish put on about seven pounds per year, depending on how much they eat, so the fish Reitz caught was around 45 years old.

According to records kept by the British Record (rod-caught) Fish Committee, the catfish is not only the largest catfish ever caught in the United Kingdom, but it may be the biggest freshwater fish caught on a rod ever in the nation.

Records for catfish were paused in 2000 in an effort to stop illegal importation of large catfish, particularly non-native species like the Wels catfish, the Telegraph reported. However, in 2023 the British Record Fish Committee reopened the records and set the new bar at 130 pounds, more than a dozen pounds smaller than Reitz’s catch, according to the outlet.

Reitz will have to make a claim with the committee for his record to be recognized.

“If I get the record that would be nice,” Reitz told the Telegraph.

The catfish, which was nicknamed Scar, was later released to swim another day, according to the BBC.

Maldon is in southeast England, about a 50-mile drive northeast from London.

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