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And it was THIS big. Honest; ALL AT SEA 1.

Byline: JEREMY ARMSTRONG

A NOVICE angler set out to catch some cod - and reeled in one of the world's largest and rarest fish.

Val Fletcher hooked an 11ft 7in oarfish, which normally lives at depths of 3,000ft in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.

But eight stone Val, who is just 5ft 4in, and boyfriend Robert Herrings hauled the 10 stone monster ashore from the icy North Sea after a 40 minute struggle.

Oarfish are hardly ever caught alive and are rarely seen even by seasoned fishermen. One of the last was captured off the coast of America seven years ago.

Val, 41, who was night fishing at Skinningrove, near Redcar, Cleveland, with squid as bait, said: "I only went out to try and catch a cod and I've ended up with this monster in my freezer.

"I knew I had something on the line but I thought it would just be a mackerel.

"But Rob said there was something big on the end.

"That was a hell of an understatement, it was colossal. We had a battle on our hands to reel it in. Just as you thought you had it out of the water a bit more would emerge. It was scary."

Sadly, Val's catch will not go into the record books as experts say it was not weighed properly.

CAPTION(S):

11FT 7INS; HAUL: Val with the monster fish
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 21, 2003
Words:231
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