A kayaker was dragged a mile out to sea by a 6ft shark off the coast of Devon.

Rupert Kirkwood, a farm vet, was fishing off north Devon when he hooked a fish much bigger than he had bargained on.

After a 15 minute struggle during which the fisherman was towed out to sea in his kayak, Kirkwood reeled in the shark. He measured it, took a photo, and then threw it back out to sea.

Kirkwood told The Mirror newspaper: “I normally only catch small fish but was using an entire mackerel as bait and hoped to catch something big.

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“I felt a massive pull and the line screamed off the reel for 10 seconds as it ran away from me. It was going so fast I could not reel it in."

But the determined angler did not give in. “It headed out to sea and I was more than a mile off land by the time I reeled it in," he added. "It was so heavy I could only just get it in on board and from the measurements I took I worked out it must be at least 65lb (five stone).”

Kirkwood, a father of four, said he was lucky that the shark did not try to bite him as its razor-sharp teeth could have taken his fingers off.

He also insisted that he had planned to released the shark from the moment he began to pursue it. "I would not want to harm a magnificent fish like that,” he told the tabloid.

Kirkwood said that he has been going fishing in his small kayak for the past decade. He has also paddled the coastline of Cornwall in it, and once even used it to sail 28 miles from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly.

The tope shark is found all over the world – usually further out to sea – and is listed as a vulnerable species.