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Angler's catch of the day: a red-faced scuba diver

A fisherman who thought he had landed the catch of his life spent several minutes wrestling with his line, only to find he had reeled in a scuba diver.

John Goldfinch was on a fishing trip with friends on the beach at Budleigh Salterton in Devon when he suddenly felt a bite, with a substantial weight pulling at the end of his line about 50ft from the shore.

But instead of the giant mackerel he was hoping for, he had caught the diver, hooking the wetsuit between his legs. Once he was pulled ashore, the diver's girlfriend plucked the hook from the area, apologised and the pair set off to continue their dive. Mr Goldfinch and his friends, Colin and Alan Ashley, have been enjoying regaling the locals with their tale of the one that got away.

Mr Goldfinch said: "My mates were falling around laughing. I said, 'sorry mate, I just didn't see you there', and he just said it was very murky down there. The funniest thing was his girlfriend then surfaced, helped him remove my tackle from his tackle, then nonchalantly handed the hook back to me and apologised."

But Mr Goldfinch warned that the diver – whose identity they were not able to catch – should use the incident as a lesson in keeping safe in the water. He said: "I didn't see the diver because he didn't have a safety buoy, which they're supposed to have when they're moving underwater.

"My brother-in-law is a diver and he said it served the bloke right – at the end of the day he could have ruined his kit, or worse."

The beach at Budleigh Salterton is a popular attraction and the waters sustain plenty of species to excite the local fishermen, including conger eel, black bream and dogfish.

On returning home, Mr Goldfinch made light of the day's exploits: "When I told my wife, she just said she was glad I didn't bring him home, as she couldn't have eaten a whole one."