The majority of serious anglers out on the water will reel in a decently sized catfish at some point, but it’s pretty rare to come up with the monsters that inhabit the rivers in some parts of Europe.
For 37-year-old angler Benjamin Gründer, though, a trip to the River Po in Italy yielded one of the most massive catches anyone had seen—literally!
Gründer had been expecting something big in the river, which has been the location of a number of exciting catch-and-release videos made by other popular anglers looking for massive catfish. Yuri Grisendi, for example, has managed to pull up catfish as long as his boat, with mouths large enough to fit himself inside before he releases them back into the water.
When Gründer’s lure did finally snag on something, though, he had so much difficulty pulling the bait up that he initially thought it was just snagged on a tree.
Eventually, he was able to move the rod, and realized that it wasn’t a tree at all—it was just a fish the size of a shark!
It took Gründer over 45 minutes to properly reel in the fish, battling against the massive size and the considerable struggle the catfish put up. Eventually, though, he was able to haul his find on board, where he discovered that he had set what is believed to be an unofficial record with the catch.
The fish wasn’t officially weighed on scales, so it won’t end up in a record book anywhere. But the unofficial estimate for size and weight clocks in at 2.68 meters long—the equivalent of around 8.8 feet—and 129 kilograms, or 284 pounds.
It was a Wels catfish, which are some of the largest freshwater fish in the world, and it was easy to see just how impressive the catch was from the pictures; not only was it as long as the boat, but its fins were larger than Gründer’s hands.
As with a number of the catfish anglers who go hunting for size, Gründer didn’t make the catch planning to keep the fish. After measuring and documenting the find, he released it again, using the photographs and his memories as the only reward he needed.
That’s one catch he won’t forget any time soon!