Archive | FISH WE LIKE

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Vendace

The Lake District in Cumbria is one of the most unspoilt areas of England. Though hugely popular with tourists, there are secluded spots where even on a sunny bank holiday, you can feel as though you are the only person on earth. The largely glacial lakes have long been popular with anglers, with trout, charr […]

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Herring

Ah, the herring. Now here is a species that, unlike the vendace/powan/gwnyiad/schelly, can be discussed succinctly and without any confusion… …unless of course, one forgets to consider the Pacific and Araucanian herrings or the (rather large) freshwater family Clupeidae, or various other fish around the world, that are known as ‘herring’. So, before the madness […]

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Jabberjaw

Fishpool was in a glorious state of reminisce earlier in the week – and was suddenly struck by the mental image of a drumming great-white shark. For anyone else who may have forgotten, The Neptunes are a band from the future. Purveyors of ‘rock’ music, they are a five-piece, made up of teenagers Biff (guitars), […]

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Nile Tilapia

Now a familiar sight on supermarket fish counters, the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is, alongside the Mozambique and blue tilapia, one of the most important commercial fish species in the world. Native, as the name suggests, to Africa and the Middle East, this fast growing species is now farmed throughout the world, with more than […]

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Ide

Common across much of Northern and mainland Europe, the ide (Leuciscus idus) does not naturally occur in Britain, though populations are becoming established in an increasing number of our rivers. The golden and blue varieties of the ide (more commonly known as orfe) have long been stocked as ornamental fish in garden ponds or in […]

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Sailfish

There is some conjecture as to whether there are one or two species of sailfish in our Oceans. Some bodies recognise the Atlantic (Istiophorus albicans) and Indo-Pacific (Istiophorus platypterus) as separate species, yet they are anatomically the same and most authorities only recognise the single species – platypterus. Despite so often swimming stubbornly against the […]

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Bitterling

Though not native to the British Isles, the bitterling (Rhodeus amarus) warrants a mention in Bits and Pieces not least for being one the four species for which Dennis Flack held the British Record for simultaneously, but also for a couple of rather peculiar attributes. The bitterling is a small fish, not unlike a roach in […]

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Ruffe

The poor old ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernua) tends to spend his life overlooked. He doesn’t grow very large (the British record is a little over 5oz while Small Fish Catcher Extraordinaire Dennis Flack has caught them to a little over 4oz), and his presence is traditionally seen as a sign that more desirable fish are not. To […]

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Silver Bream

It struck Fishpool recently that though Bits and Pieces has featured both the bronze bream and its juvenile form the skimmer (and the saltwater black bream to boot…), these hallowed pages have yet to feature the rather lovely silver bream (Blicca bjoerkna). The silver bream are far smaller than their bronze cousins and, at first […]

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Whiting

We may be experiencing one of the mildest winters on record, but the sea is still a tough proposition at this time of year. Many fish move offshore or head south to warmer water, but in turn species will enter British waters from further north. One species that is particularly common through the cold months […]

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Cuttlefish

Yes, Fishpool is well aware that the cuttlefish is not technically a fish, but as Dominic Garnett proved in Fallon’s angler Issue 1 (and Fishpool mentioned in Bits and Pieces Issue 7), squid and cuttlefish can be successfully targeted with rod and line. The most frequently encountered species in British waters is the common cuttlefish […]

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Tiger fish

The last episode of the recent BBC2 series Earth’s Wildest Waters – The Big Fish, found the three finalists in Zambia, south-central Africa, where they tackled the mighty Zambezi River. The target species was the tiger fish (Hydrocynus Vittatus), a fearsome looking fish with teeth so prominent that resident judge Matt Hayes compared its dentistry […]

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Piranhas

Ah, the late seventies…..a time when music was real, man…. The Sex Pistols were busting the establishment with Never Mind the Bollocks.., The Clash were fighting the law, and out of Brighton came The Piranhas – a ska band whose cover of Tom Hark had people shimmying around disco halls right across the country. Despite […]

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Coalfish

Regular readers of Bits and Pieces (though surely there can be no such thing as an irregular reader?) will be only too aware of the pattern found among many of the fish featured. All too often the species in question is either in decline or facing extinction, and though this particular fish might not be […]

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Arctic Charr

Though fairly rare in the British Isles, the Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) is quite widespread across the deep lakes of Scotland, with populations also found in Ireland, Wales and the Lake District. This is a fish of coldwater that is found throughout the northern hemisphere, with a particular abundance in Norway. In some areas they […]

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Bleak

For many anglers, the humble bleak (Alburnus alburnus) is looked upon with little fondness. It is a small fish, the British record is around 4 ½ ounces, that tends to congregate on large shoals and will snatch a bait intended for a quarry far larger. Found predominantly in flowing water, the bleak a long, slim, […]

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Roach

Fishpool recently wrote of the bronze bream, and how many anglers regard the mature adult fish as a separate species to the smaller, juvenile ‘skimmers’. A similar moniker could be levelled at the roach (Rutlius rutlius) – a species that might not change too much in colour and all round appearance as it ages, but […]

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Golden mahseer

Certain species of fish seem to represent perfectly the landscape of their environment. The taimen in the vast plains of Central Asia; the blue marlin in the deep azure of the open ocean; and the golden mahseer (Tor putitora) in the mythical and spiritual waters within the foothills of the Himalaya. The golden mahseer is one […]

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A Wye barbel

Before anyone leaps up and thumbs back through their leatherbound Bits and Pieces archives (that is what everyone does with these words each week – isn’t it?), Fishpool is well aware that the barbel (barbus barbus) featured in Issue 14. Sometimes though, rules are made to be broken – and besides, in the world of […]

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Zander

Few ‘British’ fish divide opinion quite as much as the zander (Sander lucioperca). A fish non-native to the British Isles but common across mainland Europe, the zander was first introduced into Woburn Abbey Lakes in 1878 by the Duke of Bedford. Though movements of fish were made subsequently, it was not until 1963, when 97 […]

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Atlantic cod

The autumn may have been absurdly mild, with record breaking temperatures and weeks without rain, but as winter nibbles deeper into the tail of the year, so the saltwater anglers prepare for the arrival of cod. The Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) has long been sought by Man. The white flesh makes for excellent eating, whether […]

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Blue shark

While Fishpool recently discovered that some sharks are utterly Pathetic, one species for which such an adjective could not be less accurate, is the blue. The blue shark (Prionace glauca) is a fish of temperate and tropical waters, occurring in all but the coldest seas. It is a slender bodied shark, with large pectorals and […]

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Skimmers

Bream aren’t the most popular of freshwater fish. They are slimy, smelly and fight with the enthusiasm of Fishpool with a hangover. They pick up baits set cunningly for chub and barbel, and seem to take pleasure in keeping carpers awake all night. Yet Fishpool feels they deserve a bit more respect. In fact, so […]

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Grayling

The graying (Thymallus thymallus) is an often overlooked fish. The presence of an adipose fin places the species (taxonomically at least) with the Salmonidae, but the grayling has not been looked upon favourably in many rivers, such as the Itchen, where it swims beside the more desirable trout and salmon. Most coarse anglers, meanwhile, are […]

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Tarpon

Perhaps it is its similarity in appearance to a sprat or bleak, but the tarpon is a fish that really doesn’t look as if it should grow as big as it does. The closely related Atlantic and Indo-Pacific tarpon (Megalops atlanticus and Megalops cyprinoides respectively) are fish that require warm water in which to breed, […]

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Great white shark

No fish commands such fear and awe, or is perhaps so misunderstood as the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). This is a truly massive fish – specimens approaching 20 feet in length have been reliably reported, while many believe the great white can grow significantly larger. They are found throughout the world – though require […]

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Chub

Autumn is coming and with it our rivers are beginning to wake up. The weed is beginning to thin, and the water levels are rising. Soon, those stretches that have slept all summer will be sparkle with every shower and thicken with fish. The chub (Squalius cephalus) is surely the epitome of a river fish. […]

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Sand eel

The poor old sand eel lives a life not unlike the minnow – constantly looking over his shoulder. There are two species common in British waters, the lesser and greater sand eel – and it is the lesser (Ammodytes tobianus) that plays such a key role in the food chain. Just about everything bigger than […]

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Plaice

Probably our most well known flatfish and certainly one our most highly regarded culinary fish, the plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) is one of the few sea fish to have appeared in Bits and Pieces that isn’t under threat. Not growing particularly huge, the shore caught record is a little over 8lbs in weight, the plaice is […]

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Pollock

Found throughout the north Atlantic, the pollock (Pollachius pollachius) is fish often overlooked. A big eyed, big mouthed sight hunter, the pollock is found throughout the British Isles, with smaller specimens frequenting rocky, inshore marks and bigger fish, weighing up to and over thirty pounds, found in deeper water and off-shore wrecks. Once hooked, the […]

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Grass Carp

Native to eastern Asia, the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) is a fast growing Cyprinid with a large mouth and cigar shaped body. They superficially resemble the chub (Squalius cephalus), and confusion has led to more than one erroneous chub ‘record’ claim. Grass carp grow large, with specimens reaching nearly five feet in length and weighing […]

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King Carp

The carp (Cyprinus carpio) comes in many different guises. The wildie (see Bits and Pieces Issue 12), the leather, the mirror and the common carp are all taxonomically the same species, yet they vary as much as people in size, shape and appearance. ‘King’ is a label that essentially encompasses all carp that differ from […]

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Grey Mullet

Though often regarded as a single species, the ‘grey’ mullet found in British waters is either thick-lipped (Chelon labrosus) or thin-lipped (Liza ramada). To add to the confusion, there is also the golden grey mullet (Liza aurata) which is related closer, taxonomically speaking at least, to the thin-lipped than the thin-lipped is to the thick-lipped, […]

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Ballan Wrasse

Widespread throughout the north-eastern Atlantic, the ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) is one of our most familiar inshore species. They are spectacularly coloured—wearing a variety of greens, reds and browns, and sometimes resemble a relic from the great 1960’s tie dye age. All ballans are born female and remain so until they are at least four […]

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Sea Horse

One of the most extraordinary creatures in our Oceans, there are over fifty species of seahorse on the world, though only two are found in British waters. The Spiny Seahorse (Hippocampus Guttulatus) and the Short Snouted Seahorse (Hippocampus Hippocampus) are found in small numbers around our coasts, predominantly off western and southern shores. Despite their […]

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Tiger Shark

Found in tropical and sub-tropical waters throughout the world, the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) is one of the most widespread fish in our seas. It is classed as an ‘average’ sized shark, though they will still reach a length of 15 feet which is plenty big enough in Fishpool’s eyes. The largest ever caught was […]

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Basking Shark

Every summer comes the same sensationalist headlines: ‘Giant Killer Shark off Prestatyn!’, ‘Great White at Weston!’, normally accompanied by a photo of a slightly droopy dorsal fin poking through the waves. Though there is evidence of great whites in British waters (more of that in a future Bits and Pieces), the sightings that are sparking […]

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Conger eel

Back in May, a commercial fishing boat brought an enormous eel back into port. Despite being misreported by some sources as measuring 20 feet in length, it was still a considerable specimen and weighed over 130lbs. Sadly, such a fish used to be far more regularly encountered, as the conger eel (Congridae conger conger) is […]

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Common Skate

It is slightly tragic that the ‘common’ skate (Dipturus batis or Raja batis) was, in 2006, listed as a critically endangered species. Once widespread across the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, over fishing has decimated the population. They are long lived – a female only reaches sexual maturity at eleven years, and is subsequently fertile […]

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The Shanny

In the unofficial hierarchy of rock-pooling, having ticked off shore crab, shrimp and then the butterfish (see Bits and Pieces Issue 6) the next target in the list is the shanny. Also known as the common blenny or seafrog, the shanny (Lipophrys pholis) is a fearsome looking fish with more than a passing resemblance to […]

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Barbel

From the savagery of the bite, to the endless power of the fight, hooking a barbel (Barbus barbus) is an unforgettable experience. These are fish of fast flows and strong currents, using the weight and power of the water to hold station against the bottom – their stream-lined shape perfectly suited to life in the […]

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Blue Marlin

Few fish capture the imagination like the Atlantic blue marlin (Makaira nigricans). For many, these are the ultimate game fish. Not only do they grow huge—the rod caught record is over 1400lb—they fight like no other fish. Blue marlin are built for speed—with slim, streamlined bodies, great fan like pectorals that can fold into grooves […]

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Tench

As we edge ever nearer to Opening Day (see Things we Like), one species that will be swimming strongly through our dreams is the tench. For stillwater anglers, the tench (Tinca tinca) is surely the early season fish of choice. Lovers of old pools and slow moving rivers and canals, the tench is a solid, […]

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Wildies

Long before the King Carp made it to our shores, a Danubian strain of Cyprinus carpio was finding its way into our lakes and rivers. Imported as a food source, these ‘wild’ carp were stocked into pools across the country by Medieval Monks looking for an easy to maintain food source. These fish were slim […]

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Giant Oarfish

Every year breaks a fresh tale of sea monsters with a familiar culprit at the centre. The giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) is a species of deepwater that is rarely encountered in its natural environment. Occasionally, specimens are found inshore, either dead or seemingly moribund, and their peculiar shape and great size always cause interest. Growing […]

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Garfish

If the crucian (see last week’s Fish we Like) maddens a freshwater angler with his shy-biting ways, a similar infuriation will be found on various piers and harbour walls this summer. Floats will dive and rod tips rattle but a strike will only connect with thin air. The culprits are garfish (Belone belone), and the […]

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Mudskipper

The greatest treasures to be unearthed by explorers of a past age were surely ecological. Horses wearing pyjamas, bald grey mammoths, talking birds and fish that live on land. ‘Gadzooks!’ the Royal Court may have cried at such absurdity, ‘a fish that can breathe?’ The mudskippers are members of the family Oxudercinae, a subspecies of […]

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Crucian

The crucian (Carassius carassius) is an oft overlooked species. Falsely labelled by many as a carp, this fish of still and slow moving lowland waterways is actually a species in its own right. Sadly, a tendency to hybridise with goldfish and common carp have led to a massive dilution of population, and true crucians are […]

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Black Bream

(Spondyliosom cantharus) Few British sea fish have benefitted from the rise in sea temperature and restrictions on inshore fishing more than the black bream. Lovers of rough ground, the bream arrive back from their deep sea winter haunts in April and May and do so in number. They are hard fighting – perhaps because they […]

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The Tunny

(Thunnus thynnus) In the years either side of World War II, some of the finest fishermen in Britain discovered a new bluefin tuna Mecca. The North Sea. In 1929 noted angler R. F. Stapleton-Cotton hooked and lost two enormous tuna while fishing off Scarborough. The following year, and with more suitable tackle, the fishing got […]

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Minnow

The poor old minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) has an unenviable life. Everywhere he swims he finds something that wants to eat him. Even when fully grown he’ll make a meal for a ruffe, and pike a thousand times his size will make a tic-tac size snack out of him. There is danger from above, with kingfishers, […]

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Taimen

Imagine the picture of Miss Ballantyne with her record 64lb salmon. Now consider a fish twice as big – that hasn’t nipped off downstream to get fat on a seafood diet. Surely no such Salmonidae exists? Well, maybe not in the Tay but in the rivers of Russia and Mongolia swims a true giant. The […]

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Ferox

The very name stirs the emotions. The Ferox (Salmo ferox) is one angry brown trout who ate his brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles and simply grew and grew. These are fish of the wildest waters; the lochs of Scotland and loughs of Ireland, where the water runs as deep as a mountain is tall. They […]

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Rudd

From clear, natural water, no British freshwater fish is as stunning as the rudd (Scardinius erythropthalmus). The bronze flanks glisten like butter in a pan and cut sharp contrast with blood-red fins. It is a shame they are not as widespread as they once were, for they are the perfect child’s catch. Lovers of the […]

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Flying Fish

One of those creatures that leaves children open-mouthed. A fish? – that lives in the sea? – that can fly? Woaahhh! There are in fact 64 species of Exocoetida, and though they don’t really fly in the conventional sense, they can stay airborne for a considerable time. By swimming at speeds of over 40mph they […]

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Dace

A perfect hand-sized fish, the dace (Leuciscus leuciscus) really doesn’t know it’s small. A six ouncer will twist its wiry frame in the current like a fish twice the size and the speed at which they dip a float is perfect for sharpening one’s ninja reactions. But it also takes the fly, and makes excellent […]

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The Eel

‘You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone’, sang Peter Cetera of American rockers Chicago. Unfortunately, this sentiment is all too true when it comes to the eel (Anguilla anguilla). For years they tangled lines, swallowed hooks and snotted up trousers but today their dramatic demise is a major conservation concern. If you catch […]

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Flounder

(Platichthys flesus) –A humble flatfish who swims in the shadow of more culinary prized cousins, the flounder is actually a rather special creature. Winter estuaries are dotted with anglers whose pockets are heavy with beads and spoons, but sometimes they should cast further inland. This chap interrupted a string of grayling from a Hampshire chalkstream […]

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Gudgeon: the king of fishes?

The gudgeon: gobio gobio

I used to catch gudgeon by an old stone, humpbacked bridge in Ireland when I was a lad. But not since then have I had the pleasure. That is until I fished the Test. There were many fish caught that day: greedy out-of-season trout, grayling galore, spiky perch, big dace, and my personal best roach (right […]

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The editor's first 20lb lake trout, with Jean-Pierre the gillie

My first 20lb laker

I had fished for a week, and caught a lot of fish, but none past the magical 20lb mark, which all around me had achieved. It was silly really, but I was growing frustrated, having travelled half-way around the world to catch a big lake trout. In desperation, I turned to my dead father, and […]

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Charlie's 32lb laker

32lb Athabaska “laker”

I was sharing a boat with a red-haired Irishman—granted that’s not in itself unusual—but what followed was unforgettable. We were trolling quickfish lures over a bay on Lake Athabaska, Canada, when the fish struck. For some reason, when I’ve been on a foreign fishing trip, the size of my catches has increased as the trip unfolded. […]

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