SUNDAY, May 22 will be a day that Saltcoats sea angler Stuart Ballantyne will never forget.

Stuart was one of 12 anglers from Ardrossan and District Sea Angling Club fishing a club shore competition in the South West of Scotland on the Solway Firth.

The competition is one of a number the club run over the course of the year.

The competition is fished on a catch, measure and release basis with prizes for the longest fish and the longest combined bag of fish.

The fish played ball on the day and good catches were recorded. Species caught included eel, flounder, thornback ray, smoothound and sea bass.

With half-an-hour of fishing to go it would be fair to say Stuart was looking like the winner.

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He already had the longest fish, a smoothound of just over a metre, and his bag length was at that stage over four metres.

A good day then got an awful lot better. Stuart registered a good bite and was clearly into a substantial fish. It was initially thought to be a good smoothound but it was a dogged, determined fight and after five minutes the fish was still scrapping hard.

A flash of silver 10 yards out raised hopes it was a good sea bass. The fish was still fighting hard and Stuart had to take it easy and tire it out before attempting to beach it, and after a hard-fought 10 minutes the fish was landed. It wasn’t a good sea bass, it was a magnificent sea bass.

It measured 88cm and weighed 15lb 5oz. To put it in perspective, the fish was only 7oz short of the Scottish shore caught record caught in Solway firth in 1998.

A spokesman for Ardrossan Sea Angling Club said: “I am absolutely delighted for Stuart, it truly is a fish of a lifetime. I feel honoured that I was present to see it.”