Guideline River Monsters Season 1 Episode 4 : European Maneater

Wade travels to Germany where he meets victims of a beast that has been raising its snout above the surface of freshwaters in Europe for the past 700 years. We discover that the Wels catfish is an aggressive predator of man eating proportions.

Silurus glanis

Maximum Length: Up to 10 feet
Maximum Weight: Up to 330 pounds

Vicious and Voracious: The wels catfish is defined by a long, scaleless body; a broad, flat head; and an extremely wide mouth containing rows of small, sandpaper-like teeth — hundreds of them. It also has two sets of barbels (whisker-like organs) on the upper and lower jaw, which help the fish hunt its prey in the murky waters of large lakes and slow-flowing rivers across Europe. The wels catfish is an adept hunter, first using its pectoral fins to create a disorienting eddy and then taking advantage of its vast, vacuum-like mouth to suck prey in and swallow it whole.

Maneater or Misunderstood? Tales of man-eating wels catfish date back as far as the 15th century, but 2008 saw a spate of attacks in Lake Schlachtensee outside of Berlin. Many believe the attacker to be a 5-foot wels catfish. These fish have been caught in Russia with human remains in their stomachs, but most experts suspect the victims were already drowned before being swallowed. Still, the wels catfish can exhibit aggressive behavior during its mating season, making it plausible that this monster fish could be responsible for attacks against humans that venture into its territory.

Jeremy Wade's Tips for Catching Wels Catfish: "Because the water level has been raised by the dams, there are lots of sunken snags, so allowing the fish to run is not an option. But nobody's told the catfish that, and this one charged out into the current and almost pulled me over. It's then a long, drawn-out tug o' war, digging my heels into the slippery bank..."

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