One of the biggest pike ever caught in this county – from a tiny stream in the middle of Oxford – has set the angling world buzzing this week.
The gigantic predator was caught by London angler Stefan Catalin from Castle Stream, which runs through the city. It weighed an incredible 36lb 3oz and was returned to the water.
Specimen hunter Catalin used a Savage Gear Real Eel lure to capture the monster from a stretch a little more than a rod-length wide.
The 29-year-old Romanian specialises in catching both pike and perch on artificial lures and smashed his personal best by 6lb 3oz.
If authenicated, the fish beats the old Thames record by 1lb.
The catch came as a complete shock to the Londoner, who fought the fish for 20 minutes.
“I was fishing off the bridge and working the bait along the bottom when I got the take and I had to give the rod to a passer-by as I quickly got off the bridge and into position by the water’s edge,” Stefan told Angling Times.
“When I saw the fish for the first time I was stunned – and a little scared – because I never thought such a massive fish would be in such a small, narrow piece of water.
“I’ve seen loads of pike anglers down here who use deadbaits and only catch small fish, but I’ve had loads of success with these artificial eels as they seem to pick out the bigger fish.
“This catch just goes to show that you can’t ignore these small streams and backwaters because they are clearly full of big surprises.”
Abingdon-based Paul Gustafson, who had written many books on big pike and has caught pike to 27lb from the Thames, said: “A 36lb pike is a huge fish. It must have waxed fat on the bream shoals around there. A 36lb pike from any river is massive, but from the Thames, it is a colossus.”