Fisherman reels in monster 6ft perch... after battling with a CROCODILE
By James Tozer
16th October 2009
It's not often that you'd describe the angler, rather than the fish, as the one that got away.
But that was certainly the case for Tim Smith, who lived to tell the tale after tussling with a crocodile over this monster 6ft Nile perch.
The art teacher, 39, had already been engaged in a titanic battle to reel in the 249lb fish for 45 minutes in his tiny motor boat on the Victoria Nile in Uganda when he realised he had a fiercer rival.
Fortunately, however, it was the 39-year-old art teacher who turned out to be the one that got away, managing to tether his catch to the boat before firing the motor into life, leaving his opponent empty-mouthed in his wake.
And he was able to pose by his giant prize - which may be a record - for this spectacular photograph.
Back from his Ugandan trip and home to mercifully crocodile-free Northern Ireland, he told yesterday of his transformation from being the hunter to the hunted.
He had been grappling with the fish while in a small boat on the Victoria Nile in Uganda, about a mile downstream from the stunning Murchison Falls, for about 45 minutes when he realised he had competition.
'Suddenly the boat lurched and I nearly fell out,' he said. 'I didn't really know what had happened.
'The next thing is, the crocodile launches itself at me, mouth wide open.'
Catch of the day: Even a hungry crocodile struggled to fit the perch in its jaws
Fortunately it had misjudged its jump and fell short, hitting the side of the boat.
'If it had launched itself another foot I'm sure it would have got hold of me,' he added.
'It obviously hit the front of the boat to try and knock me out and then went to the other side.
'When you realise something that size is trying to eat you, it's really quite daunting. I just fell back into the centre of the boat, still holding the rod.'
By then the fish had almost given up the fight, lying flat on the water close to the boat, giving the reptile its final chance.
'I just saw the crocodile swim up and grab the fish's tail and spin it around in a death roll, but because of the size of the fish it couldn't get a proper grip,' said Mr Smith.
That enabled him to grab his catch, tie it to the side of the boat, pull up the anchor and make his getaway - and just in time.
'By the time I got the engine started the crocodile was just coming around,' he said. 'I slammed into gear and the croc dived and disappeared.'
Mr Smith, who works at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, then drifted down the river, tied the fish to a tree and went to a nearby wildlife safari lodge to get help.
He is now applying to the International Game Fish Association to have his Nile perch established as a record - until now, the heaviest caught on a rod and line weighed just 230lb.
Nile perch - which themselves have a voracious appetite - were controversially introduced to Lake Victoria and surrounding rivers in the 1950s, quickly decimating native species.
They have, however, provided a useful source of income for local people, both through commercial fishing for export to Europe and also international angling tourism.
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