‘It was in a different league’ - Angler’s disbelief at landing 9 stone catfish

PUBLISHED: 18:30 27 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:04 28 August 2020

Phil Spinks, from Bungay, caught a giant catfish in Diss Mere. Picture: Phil Spinks

Phil Spinks, from Bungay, caught a giant catfish in Diss Mere. Picture: Phil Spinks


Anglers are notorious for spreading their arms wide and boasting ‘it was this big!’ when regaling friends about reeling in a whopper.

Environment Agency fisheries staff with the catfish. Picture: Environment AgencyEnvironment Agency fisheries staff with the catfish. Picture: Environment Agency

But for Phil Spinks from Bungay, the familiar proclamation would have been no exagerration on Tuesday - and he might have needed an extra set of arms to give a true description.

The 40-year-old fishing fan landed a nine stone catfish from Diss Mere after an hour and 20 minute fight - and couldn’t believe what he’d caught.

He had been at the mere filming product videos for his job at Angling Direct, a fishing tackle specialist, and only wanted to “catch a few carp.”

“I had no intention of catching it and it came as a bit of a surprise.” Mr Spinks said.

“When I first hooked on to it, which was around lunchtime, it was a completely different feeling through the rod. I could tell it was in a different league.”

But despite the size of the catfish, which is understood to be the same one caught five years ago in the mere, Mr Spinks said he was determined to land it.

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He said: “I said it doesn’t matter how long it takes, even if it is hours, we will be patient and do our best to reel it in. The secret is taking it slowly and concentrating although you do also need a bit of luck.

“Towards the end we even had a crowd of about 40 people in the car park nearby and it was incredible when we got it.

“I have done quite a bit of fishing, as well as teaching, so I’m no stranger to big fish but I haven’t caught one this big. I caught a 99 pounder once and thought I’d never catch one bigger than that.”

After the fish was retained in water, it was rehomed in an “undisclosed location” by the Environment Agency.

However, some people on social media have criticised this move.

A spokesperson from the Environment Agency said: “Catfish are a non-native species that can harm delicate river eco-systems. They can only be used for angling purposes when in a fully enclosed still water where the owner has a permit granted by the Environment Agency.”

Ben Wilby, club chairman at the Diss and District Angling Club, who have control over the fishing rights to the mere, confirmed they did not have the license to stock catfish.

He said: “When it was first caught in 2015 the Environment Agency made us aware that next time it was caught it was to be removed. We have had a lot of negative comments about it being removed but it was always the plan and we did everything to work alongside what was requested.”

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