‘Missing fisherman’ walks into Blackpool bait shop unaware of nine-hour rescue search

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A Blackpool fisherman, who was feared dead following a nine-hour search of the Irish  Sea, didn’t even realise he was be being searched for after he walked into a resort shop two days after the incident.

The man walked into Blackpool Angling Centre on Saturday and was informed about the major search and rescue operation by one of the shop workers.

The Coastguards helicopter from North Wales joined the search   Picture: Fleetwood Coastguard

The Coastguards helicopter from North Wales joined the search Picture: Fleetwood Coastguard

Police were unable to confirm about the fisherman, but a spokesman for the Church Street shop said the man walked in asking for some fishing tackle.

The spokesman said: “He started telling us about his fishing gear that cost a lot and had smashed it up the other day fishing.

“So I asked where he was fishing, what day and time and would you believe it, this is the missing man who had no idea what so ever that the search and rescue team was out looking for him.”

The man was allegedly interviewed by police officers at the shop and they took a statement.

The spokesman added: “He is fit and well , but don’t judge him as an idiot as he is new to Blackpool, he has no one he knows and no mobile and he genuinely didn’t know there was a full scale search for him.”

The mission was launched off the coast of Blackpool after a 999 call was made by a passer-by who discovered abandoned fishing gear behind Sandcastle water park in South Shore.

He had been seen earlier on but vanished, sparking a nine-hour search at around 2.45pm on Thursday, January 2.

No identification was left with the gear so rescuers did not know who they were looking for.

Lifeboats from the RNLI’s station on the Prom and rescuers - and a helicopter - from the Coastguard service were called out to help in the search.

Officials said there was little chance of finding anyone alive following the search.

Lancashire Police were unable to confirm details about the story but did say the case is no longer being considered as ‘open’.

A spokesman also said no local fishermen had been reported missing since the kit was found.

There was nothing to explicitly suggest the person had come to harm, other than their left behind fishing kit, however.

The search continued for nine hours, with rescuers braving the rough sea and rainy weather.

At around teatime, officials considered halting their extensive mission, which covered the majority of the Fylde coastline, until low tide.