Coarse fish provide a cheap alternative

At a royal banquet 2,000 carp and 700 pike were served to the guests in various dishes, and in one year another royal household ate its way through 1,587 carp, 140 pike, 140 tench, 160 eels, 25 bream and 15 perch.

Despite this recorded history, one well known angling columnist last week asserted that the British had never regarded coarse fish as a food source! A tool box full of rusty spanners offers more common sense than that.

Lower classes have always regarded coarse fish as food, especially during the great depression in the 1930s and during the Second World War, when the home trawler fleet was converted to mine laying and mine sweeping and local beaches were off limits to the public.

Hungry families turned their attention to rivers and lakes and went fishing for food to supplement the ration book.

Today, with sea fish stocks running down and endangered and popular species priced as luxuries, the people, faced and punished by rising food prices, are almost certain to go fishing for the pot.

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Commercial fishery owners are preparing to repel poachers and angling clubs expect their rivers to be plundered.

On the other hand proprietors of commercial carp waters who have suffered a financial downturn in recent weeks can seize an opportunity to refurbish their finance by introducing a takeaway policy allowing anglers to retain a medium size fish in the 5-7lb range for an economic price.

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In addition there are still water coarse fisheries as well as trout streams containing unwanted pike. The poorer members of society, especially senior citizens, could be invited to fish them out to protect the species that anglers seek as sport or game fish.

Finally, consider this. Garden fish ponds can be enlarged to accommodate a few carp. This grow your own plan makes sense and at least the consumer is assured the end result comes from a clean and unpolluted environment. In fact it is sport and food, all in one package, two pleasures for the price of one.

Failing that pike, zander, bream, tench and perch are available on the fish markets at reasonable cost.

• Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon seems set to review the legislation covering cormorant control.

At present these predatory birds may be culled on licence but fishery owners claim the system has been caught up in a tangle of red tape.

Angling opinion in the Norfolk Broads is divided. Norwich and District AA chairman Tony Gibbons insists there are sufficient fish to sustain his members sport and every native predator.

By contrast Lenwade's angling broadcaster and author John Wilson MBE has gone on record supporting the view that cormorant populations should undergo a savage culling programme.

• Norfolk chub specialists Terry Housego and Colin Howlett have again winched out some huge specimens during their latest trip to their favourite River Wensum near Lyng.

Housego bagged specimens of 6lb 12oz and 6lb 4oz and a brace of five pounders. Howlett netted a pair scaling 6lb 5oz and 5lb 4oz.

'The fishing was hard, but look at the quality. In a matter of a month we've had six chub over 6lb and at least eight others over 5lb. We've tempted them all on link ledgered bread flake,' Howlett said.

Despite overnight frosts, match results on the lakes are rising. The winner of the Fakenham club event at Button Hole was Mark Bradford with 97lb.

On the open match calendar, Warren Martin (Anglers World) was top rod at Barford with 46lb 14oz and Tony Anderson (Suffok AD) won the Barford silver fish with 38lb of bream.

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