The big one

Fishing guide Paul Stevens recounts how Bert Williams landed the biggest ever cod caught by a Briton on a trip off Soroya, Norway.

Bert Williams, 71, with his 93lb cod caught on the fishing trip with Sportquest Holidays. Bert, who lives in the Wirral and has been fishing since he was six, told the BBC that he thought at first he had caught a dolphin, and that it took 25 minutes and the help of two guides to land the giant fish. “To get the thing out of the water, I had to pace myself,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to lift it in on my own.” The massive fish is around 10lb off the world cod record, of about 104lbs, which is held by a Swedish angler

Well, what can I say? That was a fishing trip that will stay with me for a very long time. We headed out to light winds and moody black skies. After a short ride in to the ocean, we all noticed a lot of bird activity so we raced over to see what was going on and it soon become apparent that a huge feeding frenzy was under way.

As we got closer, we food ourselves surround by a massive pod of dolphins, all feeding high in the water on a bait fish called capelin. It was one of those moments that you just had to sit still and watch as thousands of dolphins chased, jumped and played on the surface. What a start to the day!

Everything was hungry that day: these birds and dolphins are feasting on a bait fish called capelin

After several attempts at taking pictures, we decided to see if the cod were hungry and had a look at the fish finder to see what was at home. Everything in this part of the ocean must have been hungry today as the cod were everywhere and very high in the water, which meant they were feeding hard. So with some big fish found, down went our lures.

There were a few boats out today: we had split up, but kept in radio contact to see if we could get the big ones. Our boat fished an area called “Guild Halen”: a very good mark that I have fished previous trips and done well. The first cod hooked, beaten and boated weighed around 25kg. What a start!

After we’d caught a few more, a very excited Sebastian, a local angling guide, came on the radio asking for bigger scales. This sounded like a big one! We soon got there and were greeted with huge cheers and anglers jumping up and down with joy. This had to be the one, I thought.

Bert wasn’t the only one to do well. All eight anglers on the trip smashed their personal bests, says Paul, who caught an 84lb cod himself the previous day. “I held the British record for 24 hours!” he told the BBC

We secured the boats together and I got my first glimpse of the cod – and it was massive. We managed to get her safely in a weigh sling and up on the scales. The needle bounced between 90lb and 96lb, so we said it was 93lb. We simply could not believe it. It was like a whale and we all felt very special to be able to witness such a fish.

After many hugs and congratulations, I remarked that that this was the biggest ever cod caught by a British angler. Bert Williams, who caught the fish, lit up – and rightly so. Well done, Bert!

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