Thursday, February 24, 2005

Horse power to reel in eel
Kelly Ryan
24 Feb 2005
Melbourne Herald Sun

FISHERMEN have called in the cavalry to catch a monstrous eel terrorising a Victorian trout farm.

A dozen brave men, a nimble horse, and underwater cameras are among the resources anglers believe necessary to catch "Nessie Down Under".

Yarra Junction drink distributor Kevin Cook was last night saddled up and ready to ride to Tommy Finn's Trout Farm to round up the rogue eel.

"If I manage to catch it on a line, I am going to tie the rope to the saddle and haul it out," Mr Cook said.

The keen horseman was confident his bay mare Ceddar was "nimble and quick" enough to escape damage from the eel.

Watsonia nurse Gerry Branagan claimed to have seen the monster fish just before dawn yesterday after waiting all night with a bait of canned cat food, sheep's liver and two-day-old prawns.

"It came out of one of the ponds and went straight for the prawns and I flicked on my headlights and just couldn't believe the size of it," she said. "Ten brave men at least are needed to catch that eel -- it was almost the length of my car.

"My concern is that it would drag one man into the water after it if it was caught on a line."

There is a $1000 bounty on the eel, which is believed to have washed into the Millgrove trout farm from the nearby Yarra.

Reputedly 4m long and weighing as much as 100kg, it has eluded capture for more than a week.

Trout farm operations manager Gary Wales said Nessie threatened to make or break him.

"The trout have been spooked by the monster and they have gone into hiding at the bottom of the ponds," Mr Wales said.

"I had to give refunds today to people who couldn't catch a fish.

"And I have had a few cancellations as well -- people are too scared to bring their kiddies in case Nessie jumps out and starts chomping on them."