Fishy goings-on ahead of the arrival of Jaws

Derrick Taylor
Derrick Taylor

He goes by the name - understandably enough - of Jaws.

And already past six feet long, weighing in at just over 82lb with a gaping mouth to match, who would be brave enough to argue?

Our biggest catfish is probably 10 years old but they live to 80 or 90 ... so this place is going to be an attraction for anglers long after I am gone.

Derrick Taylor

Now it is all stations go to dig out a new extra-spacious watery home for the giant Wels Catfish, ahead of his arrival at Fir Tree Fishery in Appley Bridge.

The fish is set to become a star of the facility for years to come, especially as the already huge specimen is still comparatively young and could well double in size and weight over the next five decades.

Jaws will be the biggest of a new consignment of 20 catfish coming to the coarse fishery ... because his existing brothers and sisters have proved to be a massive attraction.

Anglers have been travelling to the fishery - already a multi-award winner from the fishing trade press - from as far away as Scotland and the North East to tempt their quarry.

Fishermen who catch Jaws or his siblings can expect a “fight” to land the fish akin to a workout at a military boot camp which can leave you physically and mentally shattered.

Fishery boss Derrick Taylor, a retired fishing-mad businessman, has known the battle between man (and woman) versus catfish last between three and four hours.

The British record for a rod caught Wels catfish was made two years ago when a 14 year old schoolboy landed a 122lb whopper from a mere in East Anglia.

Now Derrick’s latest addition is set to become the biggest fisherman’s tale in the North.

But unlike the boasting of anglers in the pub, this one will genuinely get bigger and bigger.

Fir Tree took possession of their first consignment of Wels two years ago.

And after a gourmet diet of fresh cod heads from the fishmonger and home-reared roach, the biggest is now 56lb.

Today Derrick is busy at work in his excavator digging a large channel, 40 feet and six to seven foot deep, connecting his two existing specimen lakes, to turn the cat fish and large carp complex into, effectively a figure of eight and allow Jaws and his siblings to freely range between the two in search of food.

Although they are a target for anglers, Derrick takes the welfare of his fishy charges very seriously.

Fisherman are only allowed to even get out of their cars at this former Christmas tree farm off The Nook if they have the proper equipment for catching the fish, including a minimum 52 inch wide landing net, and a special mat for handling the fish, while the barb less hook is removed from his mouth via a hook tube.

Derrick admits that he has become totally fascinated by the fish: “Our biggest catfish is probably 10 years old but they live to 80 or 90 ... so this place is going to be an attraction for anglers long after I am gone.”