Email Address

Record Greater Amberjack - 01/12/10

Rare fish caught off Lundy due to global warming

On 29th September 2009, Neil McDonnell, the landlord of the Royal Exchange public house in Torrington, North Devon (01805 623395) lead a fishing trip off Lundy for a group of friends and “regulars” to fish off Lundy with skipper Clive Pearson aboard his boat Jessica Hettie.

Greater Amberjack fish caught off LundyAs the boat went round to the west coast of the island, Clive related a tale of a fish he had caught the previous week which he couldn’t recognise. Shortly afterwards, Neil hooked and landed a very hard fighting fish on baited feathers, which Clive said was the same as the one caught the previous week.

Luckily, on board this time was Keith Armishaw, who works in River Reads bookshop in Torrington (01805 625888), one of the foremost angling bookshops in the UK. He looked at it and recognised that it was a jack of some type, a fish he had caught earlier in the year in Florida and is found in the warmer regions. Jack are a family of fish highly regarded as sport fish in the Caribbean and around Florida.

The National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth could not identify the species as one hasn’t been caught on rod and line in British waters before but forwarded on details to an expert who says it is a Greater Amberjack.

The British Rod caught committee have sent papers out to enable a claim for a British record to be submitted once the species has been finally identified

Neil said “It is perhaps one of the few benefits of global warming that such species of sportfish are arriving off the North Devon coast. Sportfish such as these would bring a welcome boost to the local economy.”

As a footnote, Clive went out the next day and caught another of the same species so there must be a colony that has become established there probably arriving via the gulf stream.


15th December, 2010



There was great excitement amongst the locals at The Royal Exchange, Torrington, Devon when in September 2009, the Landlord, Neil McDonnell returned from a fishing trip off Lundy Island with a handful of his regulars. One man on board, Keith Armishaw of River Reads’ bookshop, had fished in Florida and spotted that Neil’s catch was an exotic, rarely seen in our coastal waters. Lucky he did, because the fish, which is a Greater Amberjack from Caribbean seas was destined for supper that night!
So with the prized fish safely tucked away in Sandy Armishaw’s freezer, her husband Keith went about having it officially verified and recorded by the British Record Fish Committee, which is part of the Angling Trust at Leominster. Initial identification was difficult but with the help of Douglas Herdson, an expert who works closely with the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, they were able to certify that this rare fish is indeed a Greater Amberjack, the first recorded capture of this species in UK waters on rod and line.
Today, River Reads’ bookshop in Torrington received an email from the Committee confirming that the fish is a new British record and it will soon be en-route to leading taxidermist, Chris Elliott in Northants, for mounting in a glass case. In the meantime, visitors to Neil and Bridget’s pub in Torrington will smile to see the ‘shrine’ which charismatic Landlord Neil has made to this fish, and there is even a song which has been loosely written by local wag, Roger Northcote in praise of the capture. It is set to the music of Monty Python’s ‘Lumberjack’ song and though this is too late to top the Christmas charts, it could well produce a hit to rival the songs of the Cornishmen’s group, ‘Fisherman’s Friends.’!
One thing is for sure, the story of the Greater Amberjack’s capture will become legendary if Neil, Keith, Roger and co. have anything to do with it, and in line with all fisherman’s tales, no doubt in time, it’s size will increase to that of Moby Dick!

Sandy Armishaw