AN angler who confessed he lied about catching a record-breaking rainbow trout eight years ago said yesterday he came clean in a desperate attempt to save his marriage.
Clive White, 35, wrote to the British Fish Record Committee two weeks ago to admit his whopping 36lb 14oz catch was already dead when he netted it.
Mr White, who smashed the previous record by 6lb 2oz, claimed a friend had actually grown the fish and handed it to him at Dever Springs fishery, near his home in Andover, Hants, in April 1995.
He said it was part of an elaborate plan – initiated by his friend – to break the British record.
The angler, who readily agreed to the con, said he placed the trout in his net and then told two nearby fishermen he had reeled in the monster catch.
The next thing he knew the trout had been weighed, the Press called and photographers were snapping what should have been his proudest moment.
But eight years later, racked by guilt, Mr White finally came clean and admitted he had lied. He said: "It's destroyed me, my marriage and everything I ever wanted. I felt so guilty. Not a week went by without me thinking about it. But I do feel a lot better now it's out in the open."
A spokesman for the BFRC confirmed it had received a letter from Mr White, in which he expressed his regret and confessed he had "found" rather than caught his gigantic catch. He said it was the first time in the committee's 30-year history that someone had lied about a record-breaking claim.
Mr White, who said he was once considered to be one of the top five fly fishermen in the country, said he became "addicted" to his hobby and his marriage suffered as a result.
He said he spent entire weekends fishing, rarely turned up to family meal times and regularly spent 12 hours a day alone on a river bank. "I was addicted and obsessed about fishing. I loved it. It felt like a great challenge to outwit the fish and prove to yourself that you are good at something. But it has now probably cost me my marriage," he said.
The 35-year-old, who has two children, said by coming clean he hoped his wife Lucy would understand why he was so depressed and elusive after his record-breaking feat.
He said he had not been fishing since Lucy filed for divorce in April and had now successfully kicked his addiction to angling.
"I don't go anymore. I've had counselling to help me get over my fishing addiction and my marriage problems. It was not hard to give up. I just see it now as an unfair game – like shooting tigers in a cage," he said.
Having given up his hobby, Mr White now enjoys ironing, cooking and spending time with his children.
"I just feel so much better about myself now. It's like a weight's been lifted off me," he said.
His friend, who he named, denied any knowledge of a "plot" to break the record.