An angler from Northern Ireland has survived a crocodile attack to land a giant fish while on holiday in Africa.
Tim Smith came within inches of being snapped up by the mighty predator as he battled the 249lb Nile perch on the end of his line.
Back safely behind his desk at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen this week the 39-year-old art teacher has been recalling the moment the fish and the crocodile struck.
Tim was fishing from a small boat on the Victoria Nile in Uganda, about a mile downstream from the stunning Murchison Falls, when the huge perch grabbed his bait.
“For the next 45 minutes this fish took me up and down the river,” he said.
All that commotion seems to have attracted the attention of the crocodile, which Tim glimpsed out of the corner of his eye.
“Suddenly the boat lurched and I nearly fell out,” he recalls.
“I didn’t really know what had happened.”
He was standing at the back of the boat beside the engine with his feet wedged against the stern, straining into the fish.
“The next thing is, the crocodile launches itself at me, mouth wide open,” said Tim.
Fortunately for him it had misjudged its jump and fell short, hitting the side of the boat.
“If it had launched itself another foot I’m sure it would have got hold of me,” he admitted.
“It obviously hit the front of the boat to try and knock me out and then went to the other side. This thing was attacking the boat.”
“When you realise something that size is trying to eat you it’s really quite daunting. I just fell back into the centre of the boat, still holding the rod.”
Almost 45 minutes had elapsed and fish was now exhausted and lying flat on the surface of the water just a few yards from the boat.
“I just saw the crocodile swim up and grab the fish’s tail and spin it around in a death roll but because of the size of the fish it couldn’t get a proper grip,” said Tim.
The Nile perch made one final dive to get away from the crocodile and Tim was able to get close enough to the fish to grab it and tie it to the side of the boat.
Tim said: “I pulled up the anchor as fast as I could. By the time I got the engine started the crocodile was just coming around. I slammed into gear and the croc dived and disappeared.”
He drifted down the river for about half a mile and tied the fish to a tree and went to a nearby wildlife safari lodge to get help.