Shetland angler smashes record for heaviest turbot
Robert McMillan caught the monster 13.5kg (29.762lbs) fish off Unst, north-west of the Muckle Flugga lighthouse, from the boat Oberon on Sunday.
The turbot had put up a good fight, he said, but was landed after about 20 minutes. Robert, 48, from Lunnaness, Vidlin, said he had a rough idea the metre-long fish would break the record but when he realised it had he was “absolutely delighted”.
The keen sea angler, who works as a fisheries officer and regularly goes out on the Oberon, said: “I always fish with my trusted Team Daiwa TDX 30/50 rod and Shimano Torium 30 reel in these waters as the fishing is extreme and you never know what you can hook into. So many giant fish have been taken from these waters recently, that you need gear that can withstand such fishing and especially so as the water in some areas is over 400ft deep.
“In the afternoon, we moved to a shell sand bank that has now produced over 200 double-figure turbot in the last year. Right away on the first drift, a double-figure turbot was caught. That was to be the first of 12 big turbot caught during the afternoon.
“Late into the afternoon, the skipper announced that we would have one last drift on the mark as it would be a 90-minute steam back to the port of Cullivoe in Yell.
“A couple of minutes into the drift, I felt a small tug on my line, then another, before a really good bite. I struck and hooked into the fish and immediately line started steaming off my reel. I knew I was into a good fish.
“I was using mackerel strip for bait on a 6/0 Gamakatsu circle hook on a flowing trace with a 5″ rattling silver spoon and a 5” Lumi Muppet.
“I took my time reeling the fish but it put up a really good fight continuing to strip line from my reel before finally breaking the surface some 20 minutes after the first bite was detected. Crewman Kenny Graham was ready with the net, securing the giant fish first time and as he swung her aboard, I knew the current Scottish record (26lbs 1oz) held by Eddie Christie from Glasgow (and also achieved on the Oberon) could be in jeopardy.”
It was difficult to weigh the fish on board due to a freshening south easterly swell, but verification by Marine Scotland officers on calibrated scales 18 hours later showed the fish had smashed the record. It is now in the freezer in the fisheries office awaiting record verification by the regulatory body Scottish Federation of Sea Anglers.
Robert, who is constantly after “bigger and bigger fish”, said his giant turbot could be worth around £160, but if cut into steaks for London restaurants could fetch £30 per kilo. He personally prefers haddock or halibut, however.
Sunday’s outing proved very productive. Earlier in the day the group on the boat, owned by John Keggie and based at Cullivoe, had had some “excellent sport” catching ling in the area of the wreck of the World War II ship Majestic. The biggest one, weighing 32lb 4oz, was caught by Robert. He said the turbot, a big flat fish, was difficult to land but the muscular ling was worse and “very severe on the muscles”.
The Scottish turbot record was broken twice in 24hrs by Eddie Chrisite in March after standing for 28 years. Robert said: “Eddie was first to offer his congratulations to me when he was informed his short-lived record had been broken.”
The current British boat-caught turbot record was set in 1980 with a fish of 33lb 12oz captured off Salcombe in Devon. However Robert is certain the prolific waters off Unst produce a monster fish to break this record.