Stories of monster catfish stalking the Thames are passing between fisherman on the banks of Weybridge and Walton.

Rumour has it 50lb catfish are thriving in the river after the proprietor of Wilson’s Boatyard, Sunbury, stocked some Australian Welles in the river during the 1920s.

Recently, Brett Ridley caught a catfish in the Thames near his Thames Ditton home but its exact weight could not be measured because it was off the scales.

“I’d asked my mate to get some bait, but he hadn’t, and all that I had in my bag was a tin of luncheon meat,” said Mr Ridley.

“I put a big lump on and cast out and when I had the take I thought it was a big carp. It fought totally differently and when it stopped pulling it was like reeling in a big log.”

It took him 45 minutes to reel in and the fish was too big for his net. It hit the scales at 50lb before they bottomed out.

Anglers by Walton Bridge were not surprised by the story with many having their own tales to tell of monsters lurking in the deep.

One man, who did not want to be named, said: “Of course there are catfish in here, everyone knows that. I’ve heard of people catching huge ones but I’ve never seen one. I don’t fish for them though.”

Welles catfish can live beyond 30 years, grow to a possible 10 feet and 330lbs in optimum conditions.

The fish is not native to England and can damage rivers as larger species prey on other fish, rats, frogs and ducks.

Have you netted a catfish recently? Let us know in the comments section below?