I take many of the 'I've seen EEs take loads of big pike' stories, with a pinch of salt.
The river Aire in Leeds now contains fish, and has done for a number of years. Prior to this it was like an open sewer in Leeds centre. About 10 years ago, I heard a report of fish being taken from the river, and asked a guy who regularly fished it, if he'd heard the same thing. Now bear in mind that this guy had been fishing for at least 20 years to my knowledge, so I would assume he was pretty clued up on angling in general. He said that he had not only heard it, but witnessed it. A Transit van piled up with mainly pike, up to 40lb! He estimated that there was in the region of 300 lb of fish in the van. When I asked if he'd reported it, I got the usual, 'No point mate, they won't do anything'. Now I know the stretch in question pretty well myself, and for there to have been around 200lb of pike in that short stretch, would take some believing, but for there to be any remotely approaching 40lb, well, that's deep into the realms of fantasy!
I did some investigating into another story about large numbers of fish being taken from a stretch of the Leeds& Liverpool canal on the outskirts of Leeds. When the story reached me, and the couple of friends who were also looking into it, it mentioned several large pike and perch. After asking around, we finally found someone who was there, it was the father of one of the young lads who had threatened the Polish guy involved. The 'several large pike' was in fact One 4lber, and the 'several large perch' were both just on the size limit, and legal. The father of the lad had told his son to get home and not be so stupid, but it didn't stop the 'Chinese whispers from spreading the exaggerated story.
I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but I believe that many of the stories at exaggerated, either through malice, or just through some anglers stereotypical inclination to exaggerate.
I need more than just word of mouth, or I have to know the source very well, before I make a judgement on any cases I hear about.
Angling is more than just catching fish, if it wasn't it would just be called 'catching'......... John