Like just about all fishermen, John Edwards and Tom Herron compete for bragging rights whenever they're on the water.
But none could ever have imagined a scenario like the one that played out recently on the banks of the River Segre in Mequinenza, Spain.
Edwards had reeled in a 209-pound partial albino catfish, believed to be the world's largest albino catfish, and wasted no time boasting about his remarkable catch. (The term albino is used in catfish-fishing circles to describe any of these lighter catfish, which lack normal pigmentation. They vary in coloration.)
"He was running up and down the bank shouting, 'Yes, yes, I've caught the biggest fish!'” Edwards told the Plymouth Herald.
But before Edwards' bragging had begun to wane, Herron hooked up, and an hour later he landed an albino catfish that weighed 221 pounds, giving him bragging rights, and presumably the record.
Both catfish were massive, measuring 7 feet, 11 inches, and 8 feet, 1 inch, respectively.
Albino catfish are not their own species of catfish, so there is no official world record for the lighter-colored fish.
But fishing charter groups keep track of the larger catches of normal and albino Wels catfish–which are popular throughout Europe and not found in the U.S.–and a spokesman for the British-based CatMaster Tours, which booked the Edwards-Herron charter, said these were the largest ever caught.
“We are as certain as we can be that nobody else has ever had a brace of normal catfish that big before anywhere in the world,” the spokesman said. “So a brace of albino catfish that big … it must surly be the first time that has ever been done … So yes, this is a world first.”
The incredible double-haul undoubtedly was accomplished thanks to a good measure of luck. But the anglers also were persistent.
Edwards, 75, and Herron, 68, had been fishing for eight hours before the first of the mammoth catfish was caught, generating the day’s first exciting moments.
"When they were photographing his catch my rod started to go, and I said, 'I’ve got a big fish here, I don't know what it was, but it’s one big fish," Herron told the Herald. "It was like dragging two sacks of potatoes through the water; it was unbelievable. I've been fishing for 50 years and this was the biggest fight I've ever had."
Anthony Edwards, John's son, also was present, and recalled the competitive atmosphere leading to the bookend catches.
"There was a lot of banter flying between them—half of what they were saying you wouldn't be able to print," Anthony said. "When we meet up again I'm sure dad will be trying to take the title off him somehow."
Said Herron of his catch: "It was the biggest albino they have ever seen caught on the river. Apparently they make good eating—but you'd need a lot of chips."
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