Huge catfish - full story of the 286 lb colossus

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

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Catfish fans around the world have been admiring online pictures of the  beast, and we're delighted to share the full story with you here.

It fell to the rod of Markus Brock when he was guided for a mission on the mighty River Po in Italy. And, as you can see in the picture above, it was something far more than spectacular!

The measuring tape recorded a length of 268 cm. The scales were dispensed with for the sake of the catfish’s well-being but its weight was estimated at 130 kilograms (around 286 lb)!

For over a year, ace angling guide Benjamin Gründer had been repeatedly noticing a very big catfish on his fishfinder during his tours.

He had spotted the fish no fewer than 21 times on a stretch of five kilometers of river.

Benjamin explained: “Initially, I always thought it was obstacles on the bottom, like sunken trees, that would produce such a signal.

“But at a certain point, I realized it had to be a fish of monstrous proportions!”

Disaster when behemoth first hooked

He had his first chance to land the behemoth in December but, unfortunately, he lost the fish during the fight.

After taking the bait at a depth of just 3.5 meters, the fish took off against the current like a steam train.

Then disaster struck, the hook pulled out and the chance was lost.

But Benjamin  returned to the Heiner family’s ‘Wels Camp’ on the Po with two guiding guests, Kai Weber and Markus Brock, which he uses as a starting point for his vertical fishing tours.

In his luggage for the return visit were the new Cat Balls from Black Cat. Cat Balls have been designed to allow silent and inconspicuous bait presentation.

The big catfish on the Po are now familiar with vertical fishing and the noises a normal weight head makes on the bottom.

As expected, at a water temperature of seven degrees, the fish were extremely passive.

The anglers found most catfish in areas of slack water with a depth of three to five meters.

On the second day of their vertical tour, Benjamin detected the presumed giant specimen yet again but all attempts to convince it to take the bait were in vain.

Another chance to tempt the giant cat

The anglers were given another chance. They spotted the giant on the fishfinder, around 600 meters away from its location the previous day.

A hand-sized crucian carp on a size 6 rigging hook and a size 3 ghost hook through the 130-gram Cat Ball were presented floating off the bottom. Markus Brock got his chance. The fish took his bait and the make-or-break battle commenced…

The first 25 minutes proceeded according to plan.

Wow – what an immense specimen! The huge catfish was caught from the powerful River Po

Wow – what an immense specimen! The huge catfish was caught from the powerful River Po (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

However, Markus was unable to gain the upper hand in the fight and the fish remained stubbornly on the bottom.

Then it swam, rather unhelpfully, through a sunken tree in six meters of water. This called for teamwork and creativity.

Kai  had to try to hold the boat in the current while guide Markus  maintained pressure on the fish with the Black Cat Vertikal LS rod and Benjamin  tried to free the line from the tree using the anchor.

In the event, the professional guide managed to use the anchor to haul the entire tree to the surface.

Since nobody knew exactly how the line was tangled around the tree, Benjamin decided to take drastic action. He wound the line around his arm and Kai cut it free from the tree.

The two guests were then able to untangle the line from the tree and tie it back onto the end wrapped around their guide’s arm.

Thankfully, that concluded the drama and, 20 minutes later, the fish made its first visit to the surface.

Markus  and Benjamin  finally dragged the fish into the boat with their last vestiges of strength and everybody immediately realized that this was a fish of exceptional dimensions.

Angler's Mail

Running from 1964 until 2020, Angler's Mail was the UK's leading weekly magazine devoted to coarse fishing, telling readers everything they needed to know about which fish to catch, where to catch them, and what kit they needed to do it. Now, loads of the magazine's expert advice can be found on, as a helpful resource for angling newcomers and experts alike.