A family vacation to Spain turned into an international headline when 11-year-old Joshua Davenport caught a 152-pound wels catfish on the River Ebro during the last week of October. He and his parents, who are also avid anglers, were visiting from their home in East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK at the time, Angling Times reports.
“It was about 11:30 a.m. and Josh was with his cousin on the swim next to us,” Davenport’s mother Lorna told the Daily Mail. “You are given a whistle to blow when you catch a big fish and Pete and I heard it and rushed over to them. Josh had got the rod and he was fighting the catfish. The rod was bent over and it was obvious it was a big one.”
Davenport was fishing with halibut pellets when the catfish bit. It took Davenport 25 minutes and some help from the guides at Ebro Mad Cats to get the fish to the riverbank. He got some photos with the monster catfish, which was hoisted in a sling for a weight measurement before being released back into the river.
“It is his dream to catch one over 100 pounds so there was no way he was going to let go,” Lora said. “When he saw it he just couldn’t believe the size of it. It took three adults and Josh to lift it.”
The Daily Mail reports that Davenport’s catch broke a European record for the largest freshwater fish caught by a youth angler. Although it’s unclear what entity maintains a continent-wide fishing records book, the massive wels catfish is big enough to theoretically set a world record. The current all-tackle youth world record for the species weighed 131 pounds 6 ounces, according to the International Game Fish Association, and Davenport’s fish outweighs it by more than 20 pounds. That record fish was also caught from the River Ebro.
It’s unknown if Davenport will submit his wels catfish to the IGFA for record consideration, or if his fish would even be eligible for an all-tackle word record—since it was released and not weighed on a certified scale. Either way, the feat is an incredible one, especially for a kid so obsessed with fishing.
“Fishing is everything to Josh,” Lorna said. “He got his first rod when he was four and caught his first catfish aged six which weighed 22 [pounds]. It has gone from there. He has caught thousands of fish. He loves catfish because they are just so big. We were in Spain for a week and he caught the big catch was his last fish of the trip.”
The River Ebro, which runs through the northeastern part of Spain, is world-famous for its gargantuan Wels catfish. Ditch Ballard, who runs Ebro Mad Cats, let a 222-pound wels catfish tow him in his 12-foot aluminum boat down the River Ebro in February. The Ebro record for wels catfish weighed 257 pounds and was caught in October, according to Angling Times.
Ebro Mad Cats posted a picture of Joshua with the big wels on Nov. 3, giving him props for the difficult catch.
“Young Josh has seriously impressed us all at Ebro Mad Cats this week, and today he has excelled himself once again with this [150-plus-pound] beast,” they wrote in a Facebook post. “Great angling young man, it’s been a pleasure having you here.”