An angler shocked the global fishing community this week after hauling a 9-foot wels catfish from the depths of Italy’s River Po. MADCAT pro staffer Alessandro Biancardi caught the bottom-dwelling behemoth after an intense 40-minute battle while fishing solo from a small jon boat. According to a press release from fishing brand MADCAT, the massive wels will break the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) all-tackle world record for length.
After catching what he called his “dream fish,” Biancardi shared the full story with MADCAT. He said it was a fairly normal day on the river until the big cat took his swimbait. “I calmly managed to fight what I felt to be a prehistoric fish,” he wrote. “When it surfaced for the first time, I realized that I hooked a monster. Adrenaline started pumping hard and the fear of losing it almost sent me into a panic.”
He tried to glove the massive fish’s lip from the side of his boat, but the wels was too strong—so he motored into a shallower part of the flooded river and landed the fish from shore. “I tied the fish to let him recover from the long fight then I suddenly realized that the boat was not anchored, and it was going away in the current,” he wrote. “I was forced to have a swim to recover it with all my stuff.”
After retrieving his boat and his gear, he enlisted a group of friends from a nearby fishing camp to help him measure the beast. They stood by as witnesses while he recorded its official length at 285 cm—or 9.4 feet long. “I was very curious about the weight but I feared to stress too much that rare specimen so I decided to safely release it,” he recalled. “[I hope] it could give another angler the same joy he gave to me.”
At 285 cm, Biancardi’s wels catfish tops the current IGFA all-tackle world record for the species by a full 40 cm. That fish was pulled from the River Po by an angler named Attila Zsedely in 2010. It weighed 297 pounds, 9 ounces.
Since Biancardi opted to release his fish, it won’t beat Zsedely’s 2010 catch. Instead, it qualifies for IGFA’s newly-introduced catch-and-release length record. And if his measurements check out with IGFA officials, it’ll best that record by four centimeters. The standing catch-and-release length record was caught in the River Po last Spring by a German angler fishing from an inflatable raft.