Just come back from a fishing holiday. I went away just at the start of National Chip Week and have returned to find myself in the middle of National Pie Week so perhaps I will add pies and chips to my list of indulgences to give up for Lent.
What an amazing fishing trip though. I was lucky to have a friend who has a contact on the Falkland Islands who invited us to experience the chance of a wilderness holiday fly fishing for Sea Trout. What amazing sport these fish proved to be with fish of between 4 and 10 lbs. being the average catch size. On the tidal and estuary water we were also catching similar size mullet. The thing that amazed me most was how big the Falkland’s is - an area roughly the size of Wales (wonder why Wales is always used for size comparisons) with a total population of about 3500 plus 3000 military personnel. Not much else on the Falklands ………………………… and me a Welshman almost forgot they do have 500,000 sheep and some of the world’s best contract sheep shearers (probably the result of British Forces Television being the only form of entertainment available).
No gastronomic tales to relate but we were able to sample diddle-dee berries which grow wild everywhere and make excellent jam. I plan to use some diddle-dee berries for making diddle-dee gin. I will update you all on this experiment. Also reacquainted with mutton, a popular Falkland Islands, dish which I realise I prefer to the lamb that is generally on offer.
All this chat about fishing and sea trout is a perfect way for me to move onto the fact that the 1st March officially marked the start of the Sea Trout season in Wales. No fish have been caught yet but with a big spring tide due around the 20th March we hope we’ll have some fish to offer about then. The Welsh have the Sea Trout season to themselves until the 1st June when the rest of the UK’s Sea Trout season begins.
Many of the fish caught in Wales are traditionally fished by coracle fishermen on the River Towey in South Wales, anyone wishing to reserve a fish, or would like me to put you on our list to call when fish are available, now is the time to get in touch. A word of warning if you are offered Sea Trout and it does not have an official Environment Agency Tag through the fish’s mouth and gills then it’s almost certainly not a Sea Trout. We know last year that in Billingsgate there were some wholesalers offering silvered Brown Trout masquerading as Sea Trout. Remember buyer beware.
More bad news for trawler men, it’s probably not surprising to learn that fish left behind after fishing boats have dragged their trawl nets are left hungry, skinnier and less virile according to a study by Dr Samuel Shepherd of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology . Having analysed UK and Irish data from boats fishing the Celtic Sea it concludes that the overall health of surviving fish is reduced by up 20%. Lemon soles, megrim and cod are the species most affected and the heavily trawled areas with impoverished seabeds are impairing the recovery of these fish stocks.
Our Var Salmon (Farmed Faroe fish with a difference) is now available and anyone interested in more info or a sample do not hesitate to give me a call. The River Severn’s elver season is just about to get under way. Anyone concerned about the question of eels and their sustainability will be pleased to hear that a sustainable eel standard has been agreed with fish industry and conservation groups. The blueprint for this standard is due to be launched next month in London, and anyone interested in more details or info should contact me directly. It’s worth reminding everyone that 40% of elvers caught this year will be used for restocking the wild. Anyone interested in a night’s elver fishing, again don’t be shy give me a call.