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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Angler floored by monster catch
The catch was verified before the anglers posed for photos

A fisherman's holiday that ended with a monster catch in Spain left him reeling from the weight of his 7ft 7ins record-breaking haul.

When the 212lb catfish took the bait and Duncan Rooke, a 32-year-old gas engineer from Surrey, picked up his rod, he said the weight was "obscene".

He said five people were needed to help bring the 15-stone fish on to the banks of the Ebro, near Barcelona, in July.

"It dragged me down the rocks. I nearly went in. God knows how I didn't."

The life and loves of a catfish
The wels catfish has a huge mouth and six whiskers
It grips its prey with hundreds of soft, sandpaper-like teeth
Putting your arm into a catfish mouth is said to be safe
A scavenger, it likes shellfish, but sometimes eats fish
Larger specimens have been known to eat frogs and snakes
It is the job of the male catfish to guard eggs until they hatch

The female wels catfish took the bait of two halibut pellets at about 2130 BST on 6 July at the end of a week-long fishing holiday.

"When you hook one they are just unbelievable," said Mr Rooke, who lives in Woking.

"I knew I was toppling and I just let my weight go backwards and fell.

"Then it pulled me back on to my feet."

He said: "They are scary things when you catch them.

"You have to grab their bottom jaw.

Anglers with fish
The anglers kept the fish for more than an hour before letting it go

"They will shake their head, do a death roll like a crocodile.

"It can dislocate your arm. You just have to keep hold of it.

"They just close their mouth and hold on and try to take you back in with them."

He said he stood in the river holding on to his catch for more than an hour.

During that time the anglers weighed the fish and had the catch independently witnessed before they posed for photographs.

The proud fisherman - who weighed a stone less than his catch - burped the fish and rubbed its stomach before sending it back into the river.

"You have to make sure they get plenty of water in their gills and get rid of all the air out of their stomachs," he said.

According to the Catfish Conservation Group, the largest freshwater fish previously caught by a Briton weighed in at 211lb.

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