Angler’s big catch – his life

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By John Keast

Cyril Keen landed a big fish that nearly took his life.

Then he landed another big one that saved his life.

Mr Keen, 70, can barely believe his luck.

He reckons if he had not caught the big fish – going down in a heap both times – he would be dead.

His life-and-death tale began in November last year when he landed a 14lb (6.4kg) rainbow trout – and he had waited 60 years to catch a fish of that size.

He caught it near Twizel and the fight was so great he had a turn.

As he was on the ground, and his partner running to help, a fellow angler shouted that his fish was getting out of the landing net, so Cyril rallied to save the fish.

Mr Keen has had that fish mounted, and in the meantime caught another big fish, a 16lb brown he landed in Lake Tekapo.

And as with the rainbow, he collapsed.

“When I went to lift it out, I went down again.”

That led to a trip to the specialist and a visit to Christchurch Hospital where it was found that an artery was all-but blocked.

“They put in two stents and I feel fine, but he wrote on the form that I was not allowed to fish for a month so I missed the opening of the high-country season.

“My advice for any good angler around 70 is to go to the doctor to get checked out.

“If I hadn’t caught them (the fish), I wouldn’t have known and I could have died.

“But I’ll be back into it soon,” Mr Keen said.

He said he couldn’t believe he was so unwell as when he was younger, he was an ace shearer – and fit.

Mr Keen said he had been fishing since he was 8, and fished mostly in Mid Canterbury.

“My grand-dad bought me my first rod,” he said.

And Mr Keen said the spoon on which he caught one of his big fish came free with his fishing licence.

It is mounted with the fish.

After two life-threatening scares, Mr Keen, who had motels in Tinwald, said all big fish would go straight back in to the water.