A blind grandmother from London, Sheila Penfold, has entered the record books for
catching the biggest ever freshwater fish by a British woman.
The 56 year-old, from Wandsworth, south west London, was nearly dragged into the river when the monster catfish took her bait.
Mrs Penfold, who is 5ft 3ins tall, used a bait of halibut pellets to snare the 8ft 2ins long catfish on the River Ebro near Barcelona.
She had to be directed by husband Alan and son Arthur as she tried to reel it in because she couldn’t see the aquatic beast due to her poor eyesight.
But after a 30 minute fight Mrs Penfold finally landed the prized catch that weighed 214lbs or 15st 4lbs, or the equivilent of two Cheryl Coles.
The specimen was so big it could only be caught after her husband, a 62-year-old retired gardener, Arthur and two colleagues to heave it into a weighing slip.
The fish dwarfed her husband’s best effort of 176lbs during the fishing trip to Spain and set a record for the biggest freshwater fish caught by a British woman before.
It is also the biggest fish caught by a woman in Spain.
Mrs Penfold, who is partially sighted but registered blind, said she only realised how big her catch was when she saw it close up.
“I was exhausted but elated afterwards,” she said.
“The record has taken a while to sink in.
“I’m still walking around with a smile on my face.”
She added: “But it goes to show that just because you are blind it doesn’t stop you breaking records like this.”
“I had three rods lined up on the bank and when one of them tipped over Arthur told me which one it was.
“I grabbed hold of it and was immediatly pulled towards the water. Luckily I managed to stop myself and I started to reel it in.”
She continued: “But for some reason I turned round and said that I didn’t think it was going to be a big one.
“Then all of a sudden it took off again and it took the line of the reel.
“I spent about half-an-hour reeling it in. When it broke the surface of the water Alan told me it was a big size.
“I saw it for the first time when it was near the edge and it looked a monster.”
After having her picture taken with it, she returned the catfish back into the water in good health.
She added: “Alan wasn’t at all jealous and was really pleased for me.”
Mr Penfold said: “She isn’t really a big woman but she stuck to it and got it in the end, although it took everything out of her.
“She did brilliantly, especially as she is registered blind.”
The record for the biggest fish caught in Britain by a woman is a 69lbs 8oz catfish caught by Bev Street, 46, from Skegness, Lincs.