An Italian angler has caught what is believed to be the largest catfish ever recorded, measuring a staggering 9ft 4 1/4 inches in length.
Alessandro Biancardi eventually came out on top after battling for 43 minutes to reel in the monster.
Remarkably the professional fisherman hooked the record breaking catch within a few casts, before he realised he was facing the biggest challenge of his 23-year career alone.
Undeterred, Biancardi, who is a member of the MADCAT pro team, soon learned of the size of the task as the fish began to breach the surface, sparking a struggle to haul it towards land from his boat.
After posing for several snaps with his catch on the banks of the River Po in northern Italy, he then released it back into the water “hoping it could give another angler the same joy he gave to me”.
The angler revealed he decided to take to the river that day after huge floods in the area had caused water levels to drop.
Preparing for the trip and checking his equipment as he would on any other day, he said: “I always need to be 100% sure that everything is in place if a dream fish decided to bite my lure.”
However, what unfolded soon turned out to be an historic occasion with a “prehistoric fish”.
“When it surfaced for the first time, I really realised that I hooked a monster, adrenaline started pumping hard and the fear of losing it almost sent me into a panic,” he told the Daily Mail. “I was alone facing the biggest catfish I ever seen in 23 years.”
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“The fish stood still some seconds before starting a very complicated fight. I tried gloving its mouth two-three times, but it was still too strong, I decided to go in shallow water trying to land it from shore and after few tries, I managed to land it!”
There was more drama to follow, however, as Biancardi spotted his unanchored boat was drifting away in the current as he rested from his exploits.
Instead he was forced to quickly swim after the boat to save it and recover his belongings.
Once secured, Biancardi acquired the assistance of a friend to help measure the catfish to ensure it was indeed record breaking.
MADCAT went on to confirm that the specimen is set to break the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) all-tackle world record for length.
The current record holder is Attila Zsedely, who pulled another fish from the same river in 2010.
As Biancardi released his catch, however, it will not count in terms of this record depsite it being 40cm larger than Zsedely’s.
It will, however, meet IGFA’s catch-and-release requirements, beating the previous record by 4cm.
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