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Italian Angler Catches Pending World-Record Wels Catfish Over 9 Feet Long

“I was alone facing the biggest catfish I’ve seen in 23 years”
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An italian angler with one of the biggest Wels catfish ever caught.

Alessandro Biancardi with the pending world-record Wels catfish. Although it's hard to say for sure, this is likely the biggest fish ever caught in freshwater. <p>Photo courtesy of MADCAT / Instagram</p>

Italian angler Alessandro Biancardi shocked the catfishing world this week with an absolutely massive Wels catfish he caught from Italy’s River Po. Measuring over nine feet long (285cm), Biancardi’s fish should set a new world record for the species.

A pro-staffer at MADCAT Fishing, Biancardi has been chasing monster catfish in the Po for decades. His pending world-record catch marks an incredible accomplishment in his own career and raises the bar for the global fishing community.

“Alessandro’s huge kitten beats the previous world record by 4cm and the fish is a result of 23 years of hard work!” MADCAT wrote in a news release. “We’re so proud of you Alessandro! You have written history in the world of catfish angling!”

Biancardi also shared some of the story behind his catch with the MADCAT team.

“Everything started as a normal day of fishing,” Biancardi writes. “I went to the great River Po. Before leaving I checked knots, hooks, each connection because I’m extremely meticulous. I always need to be 100% sure that everything is in place if a dream fish decided to bite my lure.”

As it happened, the dream fish bit his lure at the first spot of the day. With the river muddy and still dropping from a flood, Biancardi threw out a Savage Gear Cannibal Shad on a 12/0 jig head. After a few casts, something hammered the soft plastic lure and Biancardi set the hook on “what [he] felt to be a prehistoric fish.”

world record wels river po italian angler 3
Biancardi caught the fish from the River Po in his home country. Courtesy of MADCAT / Instagram

Doing battle from his john boat, Biancardi navigated strong currents and submerged obstacles as the fish fought deep. After 40 “endless minutes” of this, he says, the catfish finally broke the surface.

“I was alone facing the biggest catfish I’ve seen in 23 years,” Biancardi writes. “I tried gloving its mouth 2-3 times, but it was still too strong. I decided to go in shallow water to land it from shore and after a few tries, I managed to land it!”

The angler tied up the nine-plus-foot-long monster in the shallows to let it recover. But he forgot to anchor his boat and it drifted away, forcing him to swim downriver to recover it.

Biancardi then called his friend Marco to let him know where he was. With 10 witnesses looking on and snapping photographs, they put a tape to the Wels catfish and recorded its official measurements.

world record wels catfish river po
Alessandro Biancardi with the pending world-record Wels catfish. Courtesy of MADCAT

“I was sure that the fish I caught was special, but I never imagined what would happen next when we measured the fish on the mat,” he writes. “Under the incredulous eyes of many anglers, the meter stopped at 285cm. It was the new WORLD RECORD catfish!”

Biancardi then released the fish into the Po. He says he was curious about its total weight but didn’t want to risk stressing the fish too much by weighing it.

“I decided to safely release it, hoping it could give another angler the same joy it gave to me.”

Because Biancardi released the fish instead of bringing it to a certified scale, his catfish is eligible for an IGFA all-tackle length world record—as opposed to a certified weight record. Biancardi’s documentation has been submitted to the IGFA and is awaiting certification.

Read Next: The Biggest Record Catfish from Around the World

As the MADCAT team pointed out, the standing all-tackle length world record for the species is a 281cm catfish that a pair of German anglers caught in April. That fish also came from the River Po, which along with Spain’s Rio Ebro, has given up more monster Wels catfish than anywhere else on Earth.

Although we’ll never know for sure, there’s a good chance that Biancardi’s fish also outweighed the IGFA all-tackle world record Wels, which had a certified weight of 297 pounds, 9 ounces. The 281cm Wels caught in April was estimated to weigh over 300 pounds, according to the Angling Times.