The Wels catfish is a true giant of a freshwater fish.
When it comes to river monsters, some species of catfish, like the Wels catfish (Silurus glanis), are some of the biggest on the planet. However, few grow to the massive body weights of the massive Wels catfish. This fish species grows to such large sizes that attacks on humans reportedly happen every so often.
In today's video, angler Yuri Grisendi is fishing the Po River in Italy when he hooks into one of these monsters. His gear seems extremely undersized for the task at hand, and it even starts to break as he fights the beast.
Eventually, he brings this jaw-droppingly massive fish onboard and it is longer than he is tall. Estimates on the weight of this European catfish are an incredible 260 pounds.
As impressive as the fish was, how about this guy simply grabbing onto that lower jaw and hefting such a massive fish into the boat? The Wels is sometimes also called a "sheatfish," and is one of the largest freshwater fish on Earth. It has a native range mostly in Eastern Europe. Over time, it has been successfully introduced to fisheries in places like Spain, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and more. This species is even starting to appear in parts of Asia. It is an extremely hardy species. There are even some impressive specimens living in brackish waters around Chernobyl in Ukraine.
Because it adapts so well to being introduced to new locations and just about any water quality, many wildlife agencies have warnings out there. The worry is that if the Wels became an invasive species in the U.S. or Canada, it would have a devastating effect on the ecology of local waterways. That large mouth can swallow anything and everything the catfish wants to eat. For the most part, their diet consists of crustaceans, amphibians, fish, rodents and birds. Although they spend the majority of their lives as bottom feeders using those large barbels on their faces to help find prey.
The Po River, which you saw in this video, is part of the introduced range for this fish. However, it has also become known as one of the best places to catch a true giant. A nearly 300-pounder was caught there years ago and took the Internet by storm when the photos hit the web. The Wels catfish is a truly amazing species that will likely continue to capture the imaginations of anglers around the world for years to come.