The European wels catfish (Silurus glanis) is a member of the larger catfish family Siluridae. It is the only species found in UK waters and known simply as "the catfish" in Britain. It can be identified by its extremely wide mouth and elongated body. While not indigenous to Britain it was introduced at Woburn Abbey Estate by the Duke of Bedford in the 19th century. There are key UK fishing sites for catfish.
Tingrith Fishery, Bedfordshire
Most catfish-inhabited UK waters are still located within 40 miles of Woburn Abbey, indicating a gradual population spread. One such venue is Tingrith, which consists of three lakes set amid 21 acres of countryside.
Orchid Lake is where catfish are most likely to be found, with specimens of up to 22.7kg. not uncommon. This large volume of water is available for night fishing and is very popular among anglers who enjoy a challenge. The lake hosts a huge variety of other fish including large carp and vast shoals of tench. Guests must be accompanied by a member and book at least a day in advance. As of July 2010, a day ticket is priced at £12. A one off joining fee costs £50.
Furnace Lakes Fishery, West Sussex
This six-lake fishery includes Roman Lake, where the biggest British catfish was caught in 2007. This lake covers four acres and holds catfish weighing between 22.7 and 40.8kg. Two of the other lakes also hold catfish: Kiln Lake and Plantation Lake.
The Furnace Lakes estate is open from 6 a.m. and closes at dark. It operates high-tech security, which ensures the safety of equipment and vehicles throughout the day. Each lake is equipped with a lodge containing a gas cooker, kettle, fridge and hot and cold water. The other lakes on the estate are abundant in carp and smaller fish. As of July 2010, a day ticket on each catfish lake costs £15, while a 24-hour ticket costs £30.
Furnace Lakes Fishery
Lakemore Fisheries, Cheshire
This venue features five lakes where hundreds of catfish swim alongside carp, roach and tench. Most of the catfish were stocked into the Horseshoe Lake in the late 1980s and specimens have now reached up to 34kg. Catfish are found in three of the other lakes but are smaller on average, due to a more recent introduction.
All of these lakes permit night fishing and have at least eight pegs. Anglers must pre-book tickets, with a regular day ticket running from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For the Horseshoe Lake, however, a 24-hour ticket is the minimum requirement, costing £30, as of July 2010. All other lakes are cheaper in price.