A veteran angler has been declared the reel deal, after landing 495 different species.

Compulsive fisherman Dave Park, 74, has been fishing for 68 years and says he is just as happy hunting sticklebacks and tiddlers as he is monsters from the deep.

Dave said he was hooked after first dropping a line in 1941, and plans to catch as many fish as he can while he is fit and able.

Dave, of Hurtis Hill, Crowborough, said: "There are about thirty thousand different fish species worldwide so the ones I have caught so far are just a small sample.

"I haven't given up on any of the others yet.

"I'm currently on the hunt for a ten-spined stickleback from one of my local dykes."

The stickleback is about 4cm in length and is the smallest freshwater fish in Britain.

The capture of such a tiddler is the subject of academic debate.

Dave said: "The secret to being a good fisherman is to locate your quarry and know its habits.

You must take care not to scare it away and use tackle fine enough to deceive it but strong enough to land it.

Targeting everything from minnows to marlin requires versatility, that means being competent in many different angling styles.

Every fish Dave captures is photographed for his collection.

But he maintains the fish's safety is more important than filling his album.

Dave said: "A small proportion of edible fish get killed, cooked and eaten, otherwise they and any inedible fish are very carefully returned unharmed.

"If it is a species new to me it gets photographed first.

"I still remember the first time I went fishing.

"I was seven and I spied some small brown fish in a brook and caught them.

"I have been a compulsive angler ever since in just the same way as some folk have a compulsion to climb mountains."

The largest fish Dave has ever landed was a white sturgeon from the Fraser River in Canada.

He explained: "It was roughly 9ft long and I had to release it at the boatside unweighed.

"I rarely bother to weigh fish these days. The hardest catch was a tarpon off the coast of Belize.

"They beat salmon for fighting ability by a wide margin."