On this day in history : 10th June 1977 – After two years on the rampage in a Kent pond a rogue perch nicknamed ‘Mini-Jaws’ is finally caught – having apparently devoured 3,000 goldfish….

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Perch – Perca fluviatilis – Image credit: Citron CC BY-SA 3.0

61-year-old Alf Leggatt, a former trawler skipper, owned a lake in which he bred goldfish, in the village of Ickham near to Canterbury…. Somehow a perch (Latin name Perca fluviatilis) had found its way into the pond; generally perch live in small groups as adults and are found in running water…. If given half a chance they will eat goldfish and this particular one must have thought he had died and gone to Heaven as goldfish were on the menu every day…. He managed to munch his way through 2,000 of them….

Alf tried to net him but without success; others tried with net and line but they too were unsuccessful….and eventually the Army were called in…. But the wily fish managed to outwit five soldiers with a machine gun and a quantity of explosives….

Next big-game hunter Lt. Col. Blashford-Snell had a go…. He simply upped the explosives to create a bigger bang – but was confident enough of his success to say ‘that must have done the trick’…. Alf restocked with another 800 goldfish – but Mini-Jaws was still at large….and hungry….

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Eventually it took two Southern Water Board engineers in a rowing boat, armed with a fishing net and a 240v stun-rod to get the better of the errant perch…. The shocked fish, along with most of its intended prey, lay stunned on the surface and poor old Mini-Jaws was plucked from the water….

Mr Leggatt said he was delighted that the fish had been caught – but had also gained a lot of respect for him…. Mini-Jaws weighed just 1lb (0.45kg) – and one of his captors expressed doubt as to whether a perch that size could have eaten 3,000 gold fish in that time span….and wondered if perhaps the herons had helped….img_3354

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