AN ANGLER claims to have caught “the fish of a lifetime” after landing a salmon weighing over 30 pounds on the Hampshire Avon.

Martin Moyers, an experienced salmon fisherman, caught the large freshwater fish on Bank Holiday Monday, April 5, near Ringwood.

Although not as plentiful as in other waterways, the Hampshire Avon has historically boasted some of the largest salmon in the world.

Ghillie Brock van den Bogaerde said: “The take was gentle, and the line slowly started to tighten up.

“Martin Moyer knew to let it run and at the right moment raised the rod to take up the strain. The fish stayed deep and used the strong current to its advantage.

“Martin kept a good bend in his rod to tire it but in a series runs it made its way to the bend in the river and the boundary, marked by a barbed wire fence and wild overgrown riverbank beyond.”

Just a few miles from the mouth of the River Avon, the waterway produces salmon and sea trout throughout the season.

After fighting with the fish on the line for approximately 25 minutes, the fish began to tire giving Martin Moyer and Brock van den Bogaerde the perfect chance to bring the fish ashore.

Mr van den Bogaerde, who helped land the fish added: “Martin continued to inch upstream to allow me to climb down on to the ledge with the net.

“The water was deep and powerful and while holding the net with one hand I held a clump of grass on the edge of the bank with the other.

“The first attempt was aborted as the whole of the fish was slightly out of reach. I waited and up it came again, and Martin patiently eased it down stream and into the net it slipped out of his sight.

“’It's in the net,’ I shouted. He appeared and I could see in an instant the look of a man that had just caught the fish of a lifetime.”

The cock salmon, which measured over a metre in length, was then let back into the river by Mr Moyer.

Although records are unclear, the salmon is believed to be one of the largest caught in Dorset waterways.

The heaviest salmon ever caught using a fly in the UK is widely accepted as that caught by Georgina Ballantine, who landed a 61-pound fish in 1922.

Although some anglers claim to have caught larger fish, Georgina Ballantine’s record has stood unbeaten for almost 100 years.