A full scale bidding war erupted after a fisherman hauled in this rare ‘meagre’ fish – which is bigger than him.
The whopping sea beast measures an incredible 6ft 6ins and is the largest of its species ever caught off the British coast.
It was netted by fishing skipper Dave Wilson on board his boat Propitious off Portland Bill in Dorset.
Dave – who is under 6ft – showed it to experts who identified it as a meagre – normally found in the Mediterranean.
The massive fish was then taken to Brixham Fish Market in Devon where stunned merchants all tried to out bid each other.
It was eventually snapped up by fishmonger Robert Simonetti, who sold it on to a specialist restaurant in the north of England.
Robert, of Brixham-based Roberts fisheries, fought off six rival bidders and eventually paid £150 for the meagre.
He said: ”It’s a very rare fish that’s usually found in the Mediterranean. I think it must have got lost and luckily found its way to me.
”Only three of these have been caught in Britain since records began and this is by far the biggest so we’re delighted.
”It’s a white fish, a bit like sea bass, and I asked the merchant to cut it up so I could taste a bit because I had never actually tried it. It’s great that it was caught by a local fisherman – we always like to see something different.
”I think it’s quite a pretty fish. It’s got silvery coloured big scales. It was difficult to say what it would be worth because we haven’t got a track record.
”A few people bid for it. I probably would have paid up to £300 for it, even if I had to sell it on at cost price. It would have been worth it.”
The whopping meagre is only the third caught off the UK since records began and the biggest ever snared off the UK.
It was so unusual that the Marine Management Organisation stepped in and asked for a day to enable them to establish the exact species.
Marine officer Beshlie Pool said: ”Dave phoned our office to see if it was something he could sell or not because it’s a huge fish and he’d never seen one before. ‘We were 90 per cent sure it was a meagre fish but we wanted a final identification from an expert.
“Meagre are rare in these waters although they’re quite common in the Med. We think it was just randomly out of its range. Apparently, they taste really nice. They’re quite a big thing in Turkey so next time I go, I’ll make sure I have one.”
The meagre fish – Latin name Argyrosomus regius – looks similar to a European seabass. They are silver with a yellow-coloured mouth and live near to coastal areas in the Mediterranean and Red Sea.
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