This stunning 45lb 13oz tope was caught by current British shore record-holder Kevin Legge during his club’s annual open match in the South-West.

The huge predator fell to a large, live sandeel fished from Putsborough beach in north Devon and it helped Kevin secure top spot in the nightime match.

But despite being a real lunker of a shore-caught fish – thought to be the only example of the species ever landed from this beach – Kevin’s tope still weighs over 20lb shy of his own 66lb record from Lynmouth in November 2006.

Braunton-based Kevin landed the fish with the assistance of club secretary Wayne Thomas, before it was weighed and released back to the sea alive watched by most of the 39 Combe Martin SAC members competing in the rover match.

“I’ve gained a bit of a reputation for landing big fish, but I think someone upstairs was looking after me this time. I’d hooked the fish on a long-shanked 5/0 Manta and fortunately the mono never went anywhere near the tope’s teeth ¬ if it had it would have been good night nurse,” Sakuma-sponsored Kevin told Angling Times.

“As it was it, was like hooking a motorised bag of spuds. The fish almost spooled me within seconds of taking the bait,” he added.

The match was fished between 10pm and 3.30am over low water, with rays and dogfish the main target for competitors.

Kevin was fishing with a 7oz Impact lead on a pulley rig with a live ‘launce’ or ‘green’, as big sandeels are often called, as bait.

“It’s hard to match the excitement of sea fishing. There’s no mystery in a lake stocked with 1,000 carp, no surprises. But when you fish in the sea you never know what might show up and take an interest in your bait, as this tope proved,” said Kevin.