Angler quits job in bid to hook 'the Beast'

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The Independent Online

An obsessive angler has promised to give up work and spend his time fishing for a colossal catfish he has been chasing for 14 years.

Ian Mann has spent evenings during the week, every weekend and every holiday driving 160 miles from his home in Redditch, Hereford and Worcester, to gravel pits in Bedfordshire in his search for the fish, known as "the Beast".

The creature has become the subject of local mythology, with tales of ducks and Moorhens being pulled to a watery grave by the monster.

Mr Mann has devoted his life to sitting quietly by the side of the lakes at the Rackley Hills pits in Leighton Buzzard praying the Beast will take his bait. The fish weighs more than 120lb by his calculations.

He has already hooked a 90lb catfish in the pits. If successful he will have landed the largest freshwater fish ever caught in Britain.

Yesterday he told his foreman at the foundry where he works that he plans to hand in his notice. The fishing season begins again on 16 June.

Mr Mann, a father of four, said: "He just laughed at me. Everyone wants to be able to give up work but I don't know if I can afford it. I have been talking about it for so long I think it has to be this year.

"I haven't got that many goals in life but if there is one thing in life you want you can't just ignore it. I want that fish. I need to prove it to so many people who don't believe it exists.

"I have only come close once and I was about to bring it into the net but the size of it just frightened me, and then it straightened out the hook and escaped. I've played with it many times, once for an hour, but these hooks let you down."

Mr Mann once hooked the monster and fought for an hour to land it until its power got the better of him and he lost it.

He confessed to sitting and weeping on the bankside after the loss. Since them his obsession has become stronger.

He is now using carbon steel hooks an inch-and-a-half long and loaded with bream as bait. "You can't beat these hooks, they are not even on the market in this country," he said.

His wife Marie, who works at a light-fitting factory, is understanding. "She comes with me now," he said. "She said to me, 'If you really want to do it, then do it. Just remember you have got commitments at home'.

"It may take several months, even years. Once I've caught it I can relax and start to enjoy fishing again. There's been so much pressure on me to do this. Everybody knows what we are up against."