ONE of the most prestigious British bests in the records books may be struck off due to a case of mistaken identity.

The British Record Fish Committee has re-opened the case of a 28 lb 5 oz 4 dr sea trout record that has been at the top of their list for 26 years.

It was caught by J. Farrent on the lower tidal waters of the River Test, near Southampton, Hampshire.

Experts think that the fish could be a hybrid of a sea trout and a salmon, which are very difficult to identify.

Prolific author and fish identification expert Dr Mark Everard (pictured below) suspects that this may be the case with the current sea trout record.

Mark Everard caught Britain’s first-ever steelhead, a rainbow trout version of the normal UK brown trout sea trout in 2015.

Mark told Angler’s Mail: “To the trained eye, sea trout are quite distinct.

“Key features include the extension of the mouth below the eye (up to the eye in salmon and well behind it in trout), as well as the ‘wrist’ in front of the tail in salmon, with secondary features such as spotting pattern.

“Of course, when species get outlandishly large, these feature get distorted.

“But a complication here is how relatively commonly salmon and trout hybridise, certainly to an extent largely under-appreciated by most people.

“This makes it even trickier.

“I’ve never caught a sea trout salmon hybrid myself.

“I thought I had once, but it turned out to be an odd-shaped sea trout, but these hybrids are more common in some rivers than others, perhaps related to paucity of spawning habitat and hence likelihood of crossing,” added Mark.

Sea trout record ‘validity’

A BRFC spokesperson revealed: “The committee has received correspondence questioning the validity of the current British sea trout record and suggesting that the fish, caught in 1992 and ratified as a British record in 1993, may in fact be a salmon.

“The BRFC will investigate the question of the identification of this fish to the fullest extent it is able to from the records available.”

The BRFC is also keen for record claimants to come forward quickly.

They said: “The committee would like to remind anglers that in the event of the capture of a potential record fish, the captor should first contact the BRFC without delay.”

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