Holy creature from the Black Lagoon, Batman! While this titanic beast may look like something that may slither up out of a storm sewer and start devouring unsuspecting city dwellers in some John Carpenter flick, it’s actually a pending International Game Fish Association All-Tackle Word Record wels catfish!
While fishing with a live bream on the River Po in Mantova, Italy with IGFA Captain Alberto Bartoli, angler Roberto Godi hooked into this enormous, 250.3-pound cat…which fought like a wounded wildebeest for 45 minutes before being subdued…weighed…and released.
Godi’s cat challenges the previous wels catfish record, a 242.5 pounder — set a year earlier on the same river and now it’s up to the folks at IGFA to review the paperwork.
Meet the Wels Catfish
Here’s a little more about this odd critter from the IGFA:
This species occurs naturally or has been introduced to most of central and eastern Europe, also found throughout Asia Minor and central Asia, England, Tunisia and Algeria. The wels mainly inhabits deep-water lakes and rivers, though it enters brackish water in the Baltic and Black Seas and spawns in the salt water of the Aral Sea.
Typical of the family, its body is scaleless. The anal fin is very long and three pairs of barbels, one on the upper and two on the lower characterize the jaws. The speckled body is brown or gray-black in color. The wels is one of the largest of all freshwater fishes. It is said to exceed 16.4 feet (500 cm) in length and up to 675 lbs (306.0 kg) in weight.
Wels stay close to the bottom during the day, seeking cover in hollows or buried in the soft bottom it prefers. This species is active at night, often in quite shallow water. It is a voracious predator, feeding mainly on fish, frogs and crayfish. Occasionally it takes voles and waterfowl.
Angling for wels is highly valued sport both for its size and skill required. The species can be caught by ledgering with live or dead fishes, by surface float fishing using a large float or even by trolling. Spinners, plugs and imitations of mice and frogs are also frequently used.