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He was angling for a small catch but Rick Hodson picked up a monster 9lb cod out of the River Thames.

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The 67-year-old from Essex caught the fish at the 40th annual City of London Thames Fishery Research Experiment along the shore at Denton and snatched up first prize.

He said: “It was the biggest fish I’ve ever caught here, and I’ve been fishing here since 1973.”

The competition is used to judge the environmental condition of the river by checking the size and variety of species in it.

As well as the surprise catch of the day, there were two pouting, three dab, 24 flounder and 520 whitling.

Deputy mayor of Gravesham Derek Sales presented Mr Hodson with his trophy and said: “I’m delighted that the health of the River Thames in the Gravesend area has continued to improve.”

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