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Slaithwaite's Smith achieves top ambition

SLAITHWAITE angler Barry Smith, who has been a regular visitor to the North Yorkshire rivers for more than 30 years, recently achieved his long-standing ambition to catch a double-figure barbel.

A session on the River Swale at Thornton Bridge quickly produced a good fish of 8lb, but in the afternoon his halibut flavoured pellet was seized by a very powerful fish which took 10 minutes to bring to the net.

Realising the size of the barbel, Barry nervously asked his companion to carry out the weight and tell him that result. He was informed it registered 10lb 14oz! The barbel recorded for the Swale stands at 13lb 4oz with a fish caught last November.

Although the heat was sweltering when the Slaithwaite club visited Poppleton House Fishery at York for their latest match, some decent weights were recorded.

Dave Love netted three good carp in the closing stages for a winning weight of 19lb 11oz.

He was followed by John Holdsworth with a mixed net of carp, roach, tench and bream for 14lb 11oz, and Tony Holdsworth with a 12lb 5oz weight for third place.

* Fishermen in Thailand have netted what is claimed to be the biggest freshwater fish ever recorded - a 646lb 3oz Mekong giant catfish.

The monstrous specimen was discovered at the end of a year long fact-finding mission by scientist from the World Wildlife Fund who set out to find the biggest freshwater fish on earth.

The party had been working along the Mekong River when they stumbled across a group of local anglers hauling the huge fish out of the water in a net.

Dr Zeb Hogan, a WWF Conservation Scientist who headed the trip said: "We have now confirmed that this catfish is the largest freshwater fish record holder. It was an astonishing find."

Mekong catfish are vegetarian fish and feed only on algae rocks along the river bed.

According to locals they cannot be caught on rod and line, They are now a critically endangered species with their numbers estimated to have decreased by about 90% in the past 20 years.

At the beginning of the 20th century thousands were caught each year but now so severe is the decline that fewer than 10 are reported each year along the entire length of the river from Vietnam to southern China.

Jamie Pittock, a department head at the WWF commented: "This record catfish is as heavy as a grizzly bear. It's wonderful to think that giants like this still swim in some of the world's rivers but this amazing species could be gone within a few years if nothing is done to save it.

It is interesting to note that sturgeon have been recorded at much larger weights than the 644lb Mekong catfish, particularly from the Caspian Sea Kazakhstan, but because they are able to live in a wide range of salinities, they are not classed as a freshwater species.

A spokesman for the Sturgeon Research Institute commented: "The biggest sturgeon I ever saw was 1,852lb, about 3.4 metres long and 56 years-old!

A 507lb 8oz fish was nettled from the River Severn at Lydney in 1937 and one of 700lb was caught by a trawler off the Isle of Orkney in 1956.

In the last few decades they seem to have vacated our shores.

* The decision to syndicate the entire record-breaking barbel stretch of the Great Ouse above Bedford has been described as a dark day for fishing and has brought about a bitter war of words.

The Adams Mill reaches of the river have made history over the last seven years, having produced numerous huge barbel including the country's first ever 20lb fish last October.

One side of the river has been in the hands of a 40-man syndicate controlled by Milton Keynes Angling Association since 2002, while the opposite bank has been controlled by Potters Bar Angling Club for 40 years.

Now it has been revealed that Potters Bar has lost its fishing rights at Adams Mill after being out bid by Milton Keynes. It means that all club angling has been lost at the venue with Milton Keynes increasing its syndicate to 50, covering both banks at an annual charge of pounds 350 per head.

"It's a black day for river anglers everywhere and no club can feel safe." said Steve Pope, chairman of the Barbel Society,
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jul 28, 2005
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