COULD there be a school of sturgeon swimming through Wigan’s canal?
Two separate anglers have now come forward to say they have managed to land the fish, commonly found in faraway Russia with their roe often made into caviar.
Fisherman Damien Green was in Platt Bridge tackle and bait last week when he heard neighbour Shirley Fursey, who is also a keen angler, telling tackle shop boss Gary Smith that she had recently caught a sturgeon in a nearby stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool canal.
“At first I thought they were having me on,” said Damien. “She showed me her picture and I still genuinely thought she was pulling my leg.
“Anyway, I left and went out fishing myself. I was at a part of the canal close to where Shirley was but just didn’t think anything of it.
“To be honest, I was just waiting to go to a nearby pond which fishes better in the evening so I was killing a bit of time fishing for roach in the canal and I got a decent bite.
“Then, as I started reeling it in I realised what it was.”
To Damien’s astonishment, he managed to land the impressive 5lbs 6oz sturgeon, leaving a passer-by and himself gobsmacked.
His early scepticism soon turned into excitement and joy as he posed for a photograph with the fish before releasing it back into the canal.
The 30-year-old added: “I’ve been fishing since I was four so for 26 years now and while I’ve caught bigger, this is up there with the most impressive for sure!
“It was a similar size to the one Shirley caught so it could well be the same one but you never know.
“The strange thing is, I live in the same street as Shirley too so I can’t imagine the chances of both of us catching one.
“As I was reeling it in, a bloke walking behind me offered to grab my landing net but I just told him to grab my camera!”
Damien was quick to tell everyone he could about his impressive catch, including users of the internet at the website www.breakingthesurface.co.uk.
He said: “I’m still in shock a little to be honest, especially as all I used was a little bit of bread!”