A keen angler was gutted after he caught and prepared a fish for his BBQ dinner only to discover it was a rare tropical species – that would have netted him a British RECORD.
Holidaymaker Mark Cook, 41, was sea fishing with a friend in a boat off the coast of Cornwall when he reeled in the beautiful 2lb fish.
He scaled and gutted the fish ready to cook it at the campsite where they were staying at Sennen Cove in Cornwall.
But Mark was devastated when he described the fish to an expert who identified it as a rare Almaco Jack – native to the Caribbean.
Only a few of the fish have ever been found in British waters and experts believe Mark’s would have smashed the record for the heaviest almaco jack.
He posed for a picture with the remains of the fish but missed out on the record because it weighed much less with its innards removed.
Mark said: ”As far as I was concerned when it came out of the sea it was dinner. It was about 12 to 15 inched in length.
”When I found out I said, ‘don’t worry, I’ll catch another one’. I think the way I feel – gutted is the operative word.”
Mark, of London, was fishing in fading light with his friend Nick Walmisham, 39, from a boat just off Aire Point near Sennen Cove.
The pair wrongly identified the fish as a gilt head bream, but rang an expert as they had a ”niggling doubt” that it was something more unusual.
Nick called John Rogers, of the City Angling Centre in nearby Truro, who immediately identified it as the elusive almaco jack.
John said the pair, who normally fish in fresh water, had blown their chance of a British record by gutting the fish before it could be verified.
He said: ”Both of them are experienced fresh water fishermen but they wanted to try out sea fishing.
”I suggested they go down to Aire Point because there’s some really good bass, turbot and rays down there.
”The two of them had been camping and after catching this fish they started preparing it for their dinner.
”But Nick gave me a call and said they’d caught this fish and didn’t know what it was. He said it fought him like crazy.
”I asked him what colour it was and as soon as he said it was electric blue I knew exactly what it was.
”They filleted and scaled it on the beach because they were camping and didn’t want to make a mess at the campsite.
”It would have been well over 2lb intact. They were devastated when I told them it could have been a British record. Angling magazines give away a mountain of prizes for new British records.”
Nick, of St Ives in Cornwall, said he and Mark had been ribbed by their mates for their record blunder.
He added: ”It was fading light and we thought it might have been a gilt head bream.
”But then we had this niggling doubt so we rang John. He broke the news to us. We are a laughing stock.”
Pub landlord Neil McDonnell, 37, last year became the first angler on record to use a rod and line to catch an almaco jack off the coast of Britain.
It is thought the fish could be a sign of global warming and hotter seas as the species usually stay in much milder waters off Florida.
John added: ”You could fish for 100 years and you would never get another catch like that. It has come all the way from the Caribbean.
”We’re seeing more and more of these exotic species – it must be the effect of global warming.”
The almaco jack feeds on other fish and small squid. The species is farmed in Hawaii under the brand name Kona Kampachi as a domesticated alternative to wild tuna.