They stood for five hours on the chilly, windswept coast beside Brighton Marina and waited… and waited.
After a hard day’s fishing, 73 competitors had failed to land a solitary squid. They packed up their gear with diddly-squat in their keepnets –apart from one man.
Aquatic ecologist Davide Thambithurai was about to cast his lure back into the murky Solent when he noticed a 1cm-long baby squid.
‘Fortunately, I checked it first,’ said the 28-year-old from Portsmouth.
‘Typically, you feel the squid on the end of your line as they are a good size, but it just felt like a bit of debris. I thought that, given the colour of the water, I was in with a chance of winning because nobody else was catching anything.’
It looked more like the kind of bait you’d use to catch a mackerel but it was enough to secure first place. He won last year’s event with a 61cm (24in) squid and most anglers catch 40cm (16in) long specimens.
If Mr Thambithurai was slightly embarrassed, competition sponsor George Cunningham felt distinctly short-changed.
‘We didn’t specify a minimum size limit, it was a squid and it was caught, so we couldn’t argue with it and it won,’ he said.
‘I gave away a £210 rod as a prize for that squid which is unbelievable but rules are rules.’ Mr Thambithurai’s rivals got a tiny bit of revenge. They nicknamed his catch The Kraken.