The 28-year-old — who has not been identified — caught the 14cm fish and put it over his mouth as a joke. It quickly wriggled free, however, and jumped down his windpipe causing a complete blockage.
He ran down Boscombe Pier in Bournemouth, Dorset, in a panic with the fish still stuck in his airway before collapsing on the ground where his heart and breathing stopped before the victim turned blue.
His angling friends immediately came to his assistance and performed CPR on him given via instructions relayed by phone from an emergency medical dispatcher in the ambulance control room.
Paramedics Matt Harrison and Martyn Box quickly arrived at the pier and took over, but struggled to pull the fish out using forceps because its barbs and gills had wedged it in place.
It was only on the sixth attempt that the now dead fish was pulled clear by its tail. A spokesman for the South Western Ambulance Service said the man had stopped breathing for three minutes. He was later treated at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital before being released the next day after making a full recovery.
The paramedics praised the other anglers for their attempts at keeping their friend alive.
"The boys were giving really good CPR on our arrival as instructed by the control room staff. Initially, we didn't know the true extent of the situation or what the patient was choking on, but as we questioned them further we were told he had a whole fish stuck in his windpipe," said Mr. Box.
After placing the man in the ambulance, the paramedics realized they had to get the fish out quickly.
"It was clear that we needed to get the fish out or this patient was not going to survive the short journey to hospital. I used a laryngoscope to fully extend the mouth and throat and saw what appeared like an altered color of tissue in his throat," Mr. Harrison said.
The drama was far from over, however, as the paramedic added: "Using a McGills forceps I was able to eventually dislodge the tip of the tail and very carefully, so as not to break the tail off I tried to remove it — although the fish's barbs and gills were getting stuck on the way back up.
"I was acutely aware that I only had one attempt at getting this right as if I lost the grip or a piece broke off and it slid further out of sight then there was nothing more that we could have done to retrieve the obstruction," Mr. Harrison continued.
"Eventually after six attempts the fish came out in one piece and to our amazement it was a whole dover sole, measuring approximately 14 centimeters in length. I have never attended a more bizarre incident and don't think I ever will — but we're all so glad the patient has no lasting effects from his cardiac arrest."
Carl Smith, secretary of the local sea anglers club, said the man had been part of a group of six night-fishing on the pier on Thursday, October 5.
"He caught a small sole and then said 'this is bite size' and held it above his mouth with his mouth open. The sole just slipped from his fingers and unlucky for him it went straight to the back of his throat. He panicked and started running down the pier and then hit the deck. We knew he was choking and we ran after him. He couldn't talk or say anything," Mr. Smith said.