A fisherman who introduced his blind wife to fishing has been upstaged twice - as he watched her break two world records for catching giant catfish. Retired gardener Alan Penfold, 63, decided to start bringing wife Sheila along on his fishing trips four years ago but wouldn't have expected to be upstaged by his partially-sighted partner. She has broken the record for the biggest catfish ever caught by a woman and then hooked the largest albino catfish ever caught in two fishing holidays.
Great catch: Sheila Penfold, 59, (right) caught this 214lb giant catfish in the River Ebro, near Barcelona. It was the largest catfish ever caught by a woman. Husband Alan (left) has not managed to better his partially-sighted wife's efforts
Alan and Sheila regularly take trips to the famous River Ebro, near Barcelona, Spain to fish - but Mr Penfold could be forgiven for thinking that his wife's degenerative eye condition Retinitis Pigmentosa would prevent her matching him. The great grandmother's first big catch came when she caught a 214lb monster catfish in 2009 - the largest ever caught by a woman. The amateur angler had to be directed where to place her bait. Weighing the equivalent of 15.3 stones - around twice the weight of X Factor judge Cheryl Cole - she posed for a photo with the beast before putting it back into the water. Husband Alan, who has caught dozens of catfish that are almost as big but never managed anything as large, vowed to snare a bigger monster when the pair flew out for a two week break two months ago. Within days of the couple arriving in Spain, Alan managed to hook another mammoth catfish - but when he put it on the scales it came to just 2lb under his wife's 2009 record at 212lb. He then reeled in another giant of the deep, but again he failed to beat his wife's catch after it came in on the nose at exactly the same as his wife's catch the year before - 214lb.
Whopper: This 192lb albino catfish that Sheila caught was comfortably the largest one ever hooked - and her second world record
Sheila, speaking today, said: 'Alan was happy he managed to equal my catch, but he didn't quite manage to beat it.' The 59-year-old housewife, who has three children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild, said her second record-breaker came on October 4 this year when she reeled in a rare albino catfish. She was rowed out into the middle of the river to place her bait before heading back to the shore - and within minutes she felt a tug on her line which she said 'felt like a car', she told the Angler's Mail. After nearly an hour of reeling the fish to the surface, she almost dropped her rod in amazement when she heard people shouting around her that it was a very rare catfish. Four fellow fishermen and the tour guide helped Sheila, from Wandsworth, south London, get the huge fish onto dry land. The previous world record for an albino catfish- caught by either a man or a woman - was just 179lb, almost a stone lighter than Sheila's catch. Speaking about the moment she hooked the albino catfish, Sheila - who is just 5ft 3ins - said: 'When I first felt the tug I thought, 'this is either a good biter or a massive fish and then all of a sudden it started streaming off the line and it felt like I had hooked a car.' Sheila said: 'I only started fishing four years ago after Alan and my son Arthur said how much fun it was, so I thought I would give it a go. 'My first catch was a 106lb catfish and I never really thought I'd do much better than that, but now I have two world records which is amazing. 'It's funny really because Alan matched my 214lb catfish this year, but then I go and get another world record by catching a 192lb albino catfish which put his catch in the shade somewhat.' Alan said: 'What can I say. She's got two world records and I don't have any. 'Even when I managed to catch a whopper I couldn't beat her.' The biggest catfish ever caught in the world by a man is a staggering 646lb - or 46 stone - Giant Mekong Catfish caught in Thailand in 2005.
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