All posts by Robin Falvey

Waders that help you catch fish!

How would you like a pair of clever waders? Boots that can tell you exactly the best spot in the river in which to wet a line?

That’s just what one Dutch scientist has come up with, waders that measure the water temperature to give a real time picture of where’s best to fish.

Here we take a look at how these waders ever came to be, and whether they’ll actually benefit you…

The science

Close up of a river underwater pebbles

Image source: Igor Kolos
Water exchange in rivers is a complex subject.

The researcher is interested in hyporheic exchange – the study of water exchange in rivers. It used to be thought that groundwater entered rivers gradually along their length.

But now scientists have realised that instead, there are specific spots where upwellings of groundwater pass into the stream, and places where river water seeps into the ground.

Why fishermen?

Depth of field fly fisherman  with focused fly in river

Image source: Annette Shaff
So where do fisherman enter the equation?

But they needed to capture more information, and that’s where anglers come in. After talking to a fly fisherman friend, the scientist realised that here was a potential goldmine of information. Who better to collect water temperature data than people who spend all day wading about in the river? Fly fishing enthusiasts.

So the scientist fitted a temperature sensor to the heel of a pair of waders. The sensor relays information to a smartphone in a dry pocket. In turn the phone streams the information to the cloud, from where scientists back at the lab can analyse it.

Because groundwater is usually a lot colder than the surrounding river water, a wading angler can help detect cool groundwater upwellings, helping scientists build a water exchange map of a river.

The information is invaluable to scientists, helping them to understand how river systems work, and it’s gold for fishermen too. Some species love cold water swims, while others prefer a slightly warmer temperature – a real win win situation.

A win win situation

Man fly fishing in iceland

Image source: J. Helgason
Good news for scientists and fishermen alike.

By getting anglers to wear the smart waders, scientists hope to profile many more stretches of river they wouldn’t otherwise have the time or money to investigate. In return, anglers will be collecting valuable angling information they can store and share.

In time, scientists hope to fit other sensors to the boots in order to capture even more useful info. Data on river salinity, and nitrogen and dissolved carbon levels could all be gathered by anglers wearing smart waders.

The information captured would provide scientists with a wealth of accurate data about the health of rivers and would also act as a real time pollution alert.

Sounds good! When can I buy them?

The waders are still at the early prototype stage so you can’t buy them in the shops yet. But if this Dutch scientist has anything to do with it, we’ll all be wearing smart waders soon.

The only  “fly” in the ointment for us it that we wonder how sporting it is to know exactly where the fish are hiding. Fly fishing is after all an art, not a science.

Celebration carp cakes!

Planning a celebration for the carp fishing fanatic in your life? You need fishcakes, and we’re not talking about mashed cod and potato either.

From across the country, cake makers put their sugary crafts on show to bring you our carp cake collection, a review of the best of British novelty cake baking.

So put away your carp fishing equipment and prepare to feast your eyes.

Gemma Cakes

Gemma Cakes Carp

Image source: Gemma Cakes
A bright green delight!

Home bakery that’s a step above the ordinary comes courtesy of this fantastic creation from Gemma’s Cakes and Desserts. From her Jacksdale kitchen, Gemma bakes sumptuous and imaginative cakes and cupcakes to order.

We think you’ll agree this specimen is one any birthday angler would be more proud to be photographed with!

Dave’s all occasion cakes

Dave's all occassionas cakes carp

Image source: Dave’s all occasion cakes
Having a swim.

“Baking is like being a builder…it’s just different materials”. That’s what Dave Mason told the Sun newspaper about his passion for doing the impossible with cake. The Cake maker from Cornwall once featured on the Alan Titchmarsh show where his work was praised by none less than Paul Hollywood one of the judges of the Great British Bake Off. Judging by this stunning carp cake, we’d say Dave has no need to be “koi” about his considerable baking and artistic talents.

3 Tiers

Three tiers cakes carp

Image source: Three Tiers for Cake
Super lifelike carp.

How do you end up baking a cake like this by accident? But that’s the story of this lady’s cake business. What began as a way to jazz up her young son’s birthdays soon developed into a cake baking passion she never saw coming. Now Three Tiers for Cake goes from strength to strength. We’re not surprised if this super life-like carp cake is anything to go by!

Creative cakes of Blackpool

Creative cakes of Blackpool carp

Image source: Creative cakes of Blackpool
So koi!

Not only does Sue Summers bake incredible cakes, she’s a fan of puns too, as evidenced above – our kind of baker! With over 20 years experience, Sue continues to create outstanding cakes as well as pass on her expert techniques to fellow icing enthusiasts.

Slattery

Slattery Koi Carp Cake

Image source: Slattery
A carp on water.

What a catch! This creative carp confection was created by Slattery Patissier and Chocolatier, Whitefield’s unique centre for all things sweet toothed. More than just a cake shop, this place is an emporium of sugary delights.

Watch the bakers at work, eat in the dining room, take a baking, sugar craft or chocolate making course in the second floor, Slattery school of excellence. Forget the diet – tuck in!

Anyway – we’ll stop carping on now, it’s over to you! Let us know what you think of these creative creations on Facebook and Twitter.

Your fishing rod can save the planet

Cork fishing rod

Got a cork rod? You’re helping the environment!

Did you know the manufacture of your fishing rod provides a lifeline to one of the oldest industries in the world?

That’s because if, like many fly fishermen, you go for the tried and tested feel of an old-school cork handle, not only are you keeping an age old tradition alive you’re also safeguarding the cork oak forests of Southern Europe and North Africa.

Think we’re over exaggerating? The cork business really needs your help…

The wonderful world of cork

Cork groves in Portugal

Image source: Charles Fenno Jacobs
A cork grove in Portugal.

The cork oak forests of Portugal, Spain, Italy and North Africa are one of the most ecologically diverse habitats on the planet. And the cork industry which harvests the bark, is highly sustainable, in fact it’s argued that ongoing stewardship of the forests is a vital part of the maintenance of the ecosystem. Cork bark is harvested by hand using short handled axes, and as long as it’s done correctly, the trees can be harvested every nine or ten years and will still live to be over 200 years old.

Cork is an incredible product. As any self respecting fisherman will know, one of the advantages of a cork handled fishing rod is that it repels water. It’s a rot resistant material that is not only elastic, and therefore comfortable to use, it also stays dry and therefore light, an important consideration in maintaining the balance of the rod. The magic ingredient is a substance called Suberin; it’s what gives cork its waxy rubbery feel and its natural function in the cork tree is to prevent moisture loss in the hot dry climates in which it grows.

Screwing up the cork trade

Cork trees

Image source: inacio pires
Cork is good for the environment.

Wine has been stoppered with corks as far back as anyone can remember, even the wine ampules uncovered at Pompeii were sealed with cork bungs. But modern manufacturing now threatens an end to the age old tradition; we’re talking plastic corks and screw cap wine bottles. To put it bluntly, they’re screwing the cork trade.

Until plastic and metal corks and caps entered the market, the New York Times reports that around 75% of the world’s cork went for wine bottle corks, but in the last decade experts estimate the cork industry has lost a fifth of its market share to screw caps. That shortfall in orders is a hard blow for an industry that supports rural communities in some of the poorest parts of Europe, and in the cork forests, all is not well.

As farmers begin to neglect the cork trees, there’s a knock-on effect that goes beyond economic to threaten rare habitats.  That’s why it’s so important for anglers to continue to support the trade through their choice of fishing rod, and tipple.

It’s not just your fishing rod and wine…

Cork flooring

Image source: Olha Vysochynska
Could you be tempted with cork flooring?

Why stop at an elegant champagne cork handle for your rod? Cork is a highly versatile product that’s used for everything from notice boards, to parts of the heat shield of space shuttles. Naturally fire retardant, it makes a fantastic flooring alternative to lino or laminates that’s hard wearing, a natural sound insulator, easy  to clean and looks fantastic.

And for fly fishing enthusiasts, what better excuse for shelling out on that lovely new fly rod than protecting the planet? Tempted? here are a few of ours favourites.


Should children be boat skippers?

When the Cesca, a 16 meter crabber sank off North Wales coast last month, the story made national headlines.

The boat took on water, suffered engine failure and sank. Skipper, Jake Bowman-Davies kept a cool head; he initiated the correct emergency procedure, put out a distress call and later made the agonising decision to abandon ship, successfully shepherding his crew into the life raft.

What made the story a sensation wasn’t the skipper’s evident bravery, resourcefulness and sang froid, it was his age. Jake Bowman-Davies is just sixteen years old, an age at which many teenagers can barely organise their own sea fishing tackle, let alone take responsibility for a fishing boat and its crew. It begs the question that, courageous and level headed though the young skipper most certainly is, should he have been in charge of a commercial fishing vessel in the first place?

The rules

Boat skipping at the wheel

Image source: Radist
There are currently no age restrictions on becoming a skipper.

As it stands, there is no legal requirement for skippers of commercial fishing craft under 16.5 metres to hold a skipper’s ticket, and there is no legal minimum age to be a small boat skipper. To be employed on any fishing boat, all you need is to have completed the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) statutory safety training in sea survival, first aid, fire fighting and health and safety, for which there is currently no minimum age limit.

Some newspapers claim that 16 year old skipper, Jake Bowman-Davies is the country’s youngest qualified skipper. But they are wrong. In fact, Jake does not hold a skipper’s ticket, a fact that Simon Potten, head of safety and training at Seafish is keen to point out: “He is not eligible for a Seafish under 16.5m Skipper’s Certificate until he can evidence a minimum two years’ experience as a full-time commercial fisherman – since leaving school. This effectively rules out anyone under 18 years of age [from holding the Skipper’s ticket].”

We should point out that Jake Bowman-Davies has completed all the required training for the Certificate. Clearly what is at issue is not the level of competence that the young skipper displayed under pressure, but whether he should have been put in that position at all.

 

Stormy seas at jetty

Image source: Michal Bednarek
Young people may suffer worse from extreme stress.

Regardless of Jake Bowman-Davies’ obvious abilities, he is still a child. Pressure groups campaigning for an increase to the minimum age requirement for joining the armed forces point to evidence that suggests personnel recruited at 16 are more likely to suffer from mental health problems like post traumatic stress disorder than those who enlist at 18 years of age.

Young people subjected to extreme stress are more likely to have difficulty processing and coming to terms with events. Experiencing a sinking, or serious injury at sea is nothing if not traumatic. We are not suggesting that this particular skipper is struggling, but we are saying putting young people in a position of leadership at 16 could be too early to assume such a hefty responsibility.

The case for?

Bright fishing boats at a harbour

Image source: pink candy
It’s all about having the correct training and experience.

Age is no bar to experience, and the simple fact is that fishermen’s sons are often making regular trips to sea with their fathers well before their voices have broken. A sixteen year old skipper may not be old enough to vote, but he or she might already have several years of sea time under their belt.

And just because someone is young doesn’t mean they’re not capable, as the calm and collected, as Jake Bowman-Davies proves. And of course being older is no guarantee someone will do the right thing in a life and death scenario.

Perhaps what is most important is not age, but training. As Seafish’s Simon Potten says: “we actively encourage fishermen of any age to undertake the training courses required for a Skipper’s Certificate as there is no age limit. The more safety training fishermen get the better.”

What do you think? is 16 too young to be a commercial skipper? We’d be delighted to receive your comments on Facebook and Twitter.

America’s strangest fishing laws

Whether you’re planning an epic fishing trip to the states, or just want a good laugh, you need to check out these seriously strange fishing laws from the other side of the pond.

Top tip: Going fishing in America? Leave your lasso at home.

Illinois

Giraffe in front of mountain

Image source: byrdyak
Planning on riding a giraffe in Illinois? Just don’t be tempted to fish from it’s neck!

Never mind the rednecks, it’s the long necks that might get you in trouble in Chicago, Illinois. That’s because it’s forbidden to fish while sitting on the neck of a giraffe. If you’re stateside on business or pleasure and find yourself invited to go fishing, best steer clear of the zoo.

If you’ve avoided the exotic legal pitfall, take care heading to the river bank first thing. Don’t be tempted to head out for some sport without getting properly dressed because fishing in your PJs is strictly against the law. Best to stick to waders; just as comfy, waterproof and won’t land you in jail!

We know you’re crazy about fishing, but if you’re getting married perhaps you’d be best advised to take the day off from your favourite sport. If you really can’t resist the urge to wet a line, stay on the river bank. That’s because it’s illegal to fish from a boat on your wedding day.

Ohio

Group of pals doing a toast with brandy

Image source: weyo
When in Ohio feel free to drink like a fish, just don’t get a fish drunk!

Drinking like a fish is one thing, but in Ohio, you need to be careful who you choose to get drunk with. It’s fine to chat to the bar flies, but to prevent a showdown with the deputy, avoid any old trout you find propping up the bar. Why? Because it’s against the law to get a fish drunk.

But it’s not just getting sea-life drunk that’s banned. Oh no. Ohio’s state motto is, “With God, all things are possible”. But not, it appears, if your chosen sport involves harpoons. That’s because fishing for whales is banned on Sundays.

Pennsylvania

Man with his mouth wide open

Image source: olly2
In Philly it’s illegal to catch a fish with any part of your body, except your mouth.

State capital, Philly is home to the Liberty Bell; it’s the city where the first United States flag was sewn and it’s the city that gave its name to the most famous soft cheese in the world. But though this Pennsylvania is synonymous with freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it’s not quite as free as you might think, especially if trout tickling is your thing.

In Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to catch a fish using any part of your body – other than your mouth – which presumably is how the big mouth bass got its name.

Georgia

Stack of pebbles in a stream

Image source: Rawpixel
You might want to stop skimming stones; it’s illegal to chuck rocks at fish in Georgia.

Heading to the American South? You’re in for a treat. Southerners are renowned for their hospitality, but beware taking too much for granted. In the land of gentility, be careful to treat the rivers with respect. Forgot your fishing rod? Take our advice and walk away – it’s against the law to chuck rocks at fish.

Clearly, the USA is a place to watch your step when it comes to casting a line. If you don’t want to be netted by the law, it pays to make sure you check the rules or risk the scales of justice weighing against you. And if you’re ever in Tennessee – only use that lasso on cattle, fishing with it will land you in deep water!

Readers’ favourite fishing tackle

We asked our readers for their favourite fishing tackle, here are the results!

We’ve covered coarse fishing, sea fishing, fly fishing and of course a few miscellaneous bits!

So here it is, our readers’ favourite fishing tackle

Coarse Fishing

Man holding a carp after catching it with his fishing tackle

Image source: Dudarev Mikhail
Your favourite tackle to catch these guys.

“My rod licence. Without it I cannot go and do what I enjoy.”
Simon Colledge

“My little 8ft Middy “puddle chucker” feeder rod. It has never let me down and landed me a very unexpected 21lb catfish on 6lb line!”
Steve O’hare

“My shakespeare 2.75tc rod and shimano reel, because I was using them last week when I landed my PB pike, approx 27lb.”
Christopher Fuller

“My first ever bedchair from TF Gear. I’ve had it for 8 years and still giving me a good sleep (which I don’t like because I’m going fishing, not camping).”
Peter Pepo Drozd

“My Mk IV carp rod By Richard Walker.”
Raymond Johnys

“ABU 1044 closed face reel. It the best reel I have used for long trotting on rivers like the Severn. And it has helped me bring many good Barbel and Chub to the net.”
Tony Young

“Fox polarised glasses. Most vital piece of kit I have.”
Jamie Cousins

“Diawa longbow DF spod rod, coupled with Diawa spod reel. It’s just so easy to use.”
Peter Lacey

“My favourite float. That’s why I catch so many fish!”
David Wiggings

“Jag hook sharpening kit, gives me alot of confidence.”
Peter Collins

“My binoculars as they help with spotting fish at distance. If you turn them upside down you can check your hooks for sharpness.”
David Davies

“TFgear pitbull reels! The best looking, nicest to use and hardcore durability!”
Si Taylor

“Scout two man bivvy, it’s ideal for winter sessions. It’s got more room inside this than I’ve got in my house!”
Mark Smitty Smith

“My 10ft shimano catana spinning rod and my shimano exage xc 4000 spinning reel. Why? Because the wife bought it me for my birthday and it catches pike sofar, and hopfully bass and pollock later in the year.”
Chris Nicholson

Popular Coarse Fishing Products

Sea Fishing

Man using his sea fishing tackle to fish

Image source: Buckland
Reap the rewards of the ocean with these tools.

“Rods: zippys f-zero x2, daiwa btb sea match special x1. Penn 525mags. Good casting rods and last forever. Plus reels that are fast on the retrieve. Best brand overall daiwa.”
Peter Cornwell

“My rods are century match and a tip tornado compressor sport reels are Penn 525 mags.”
David Machon

“My rods (Nash outlaw), without them I wouldn’t catch anything.”
Nigel Lemon

Popular Sea Fishing Products

Fly Fishing

Man using his fly fishing tackle to fish in a river

Image source: Debbie Nelson
Improve your time fly fishing with the right gear.

“Airflo Fly Lines, they help me cast further than I ever thought possible.”
Luke Thomas

“Hardy Demon 9′ 6″ #7 for the bank and a 10′ #7 for the boat. The mid flex and fast recovery lets me cast all day with little effort. What a great rod!”
Nick Moore

“Airflo super stik #8 comp special. Great action and packs a punch lovely rod.”
Nathan Dickinson

“Hardy CLS 7000. It is just a beautiful piece of engineering. It also balances my GR50 perfectly.”
Richard Titterrell

“Greys xf2 #7 great all rounder a pleasure to use.”
Bobby Smith

“Sage Z axis rod and box of own self tyed flies.”
Eleanor Brown

“Sixth Sense fly lines. Take transmission, right down the line length. Just superb.”
Stuart Smitham

Popular Fly Fishing Tackle Products

Miscellaneous

Kettle boiling on a campfire

Image source: Svitlana777
Cheeky little extras

“Hip flask to keep the bones warm!”
Dyfan Morris

“My kettle, It makes my tea.”
Colin Prickett

“My Kelly Kettle; nothing like a fresh cup of tea when your on the river for the day.”
Tim Harte

“The wife, it makes the food.”
Mike Chandler

Have we missed your favourite piece of kit? Let us know your opinion on Facebook and Twitter!

5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

Are you an avid sea angler? For true devotees of the noble art of sea fishing, investing in a wide range of sea fishing tackle is just the start.

It’s also important to own things that connect you to the ocean and the sport you love. We’re talking nautical knick-knacks.

Not only do they perform a useful function, they also look good about house and they’re a talking point, helping to cement your reputation as a true salt. Here are our top five things every sea fisherman should have.

1. Seaweed

Stunning beachscape featuring seaweed and sunset

Image source: lovleah
Keep your eyes peeled for an attractive clump next time you’re out!

If you have a veranda, balcony or porch, you need kelp, a string of seaweed to dangle from a conveniently positioned hook. When you pop out to give it a stroke each morning, your neighbours might give you a funny look, but what do you care? You’re a sea angler.

But aside from it’s obvious connection to the sea, seaweed is an effective – albeit alternative – weather forecaster. The salt in the seaweed attracts the moisture in the air. Damp weed indicates a higher likelihood of rain, a dry brittle feel is a sure sign of dry, sunny, anti-cyclonic conditions. You could of course check the weather forecast – but where’s the fun in that? A true sea fishing fan needs to sniff the air and caress the kelp for himself.

2. Sextant

Bronze Sexant on wooden background.

Image source: scorpp
Cool, quirky and actually useful.

It’s made of brass, it looks awesome, and if you really know how to use it, you’re so salty you make Ahab look like a landlubber. Strictly speaking, a land based sea angler has no need to possess a sextant. But if you do venture out to sea and lose sight of land, this instrument, along with your watch, is a nautical fall back you can’t afford to be without.

Before the advent of marine electronics and GPS, knowing how to use a sextant and chronometer to pinpoint your position on a chart was essential. A sextant is all too often treated as a quaint reminder of our nautical heritage. Until you lose your electrics.

3. Lunar calendar

Full moon reflected on the sea

Image source: ricardokuhl
Track the moon and land big.

When most people think of the lunar landings, they think in terms of “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But as far as you’re concerned, it’s all about the fish. Most people know fish often feed at dawn and dusk, but you’ll increase your chances of making a catch if you also factor in moonrise and moonset.

And if you combine this new knowledge with fishing on the new or full moon, you’re really making out your chances of catching a specimen. So if you really want to know when it’s best to cast, add a lunar calendar to your shopping list!

4. Tide clock

Brass Tide clock on wooden background.

Image source: Bin im Garten
Do away with your tide book and invest in a clock.

No self respecting sea angler would allow him or herself to be caught on the hop when it comes to knowing what the tide’s doing. But if you live beyond sight of the brine, keeping an eye on the ebb and flow can be aided considerably by owning a tide clock.

Unlike a normal clock, the tide clock has only one hand which indicates high or low tide and the hours until the next tidal extreme. A tide clock’s efficacy at foretelling the time of the next tide varies according to where in the world you live, but in semi-diurnal tidal regions like most Atlantic coasts, it’s fairly efficient.

That said, because tides are brought about by the gravitational influences of the moon, sun and rotation of the earth, your clock will tend to gain by about 15 mins per month, so don’t forget to also invest in a tide timetable!

5. Barometer

Brass Barometer

Image source: Baloncici
Get your own mini weather station.

“Noi viviamo sommersi nel fondo d’un pelago d’aria,” said Evangelista Torricelli. And he was right – we do live at the bottom of an ocean of air. What the 17th century scientist realised was that “air ocean” currents create whirlpools and eddies which in turn give rise to areas of high and low atmospheric pressure.

In 1643, Torricelli took a 1 meter long glass test tube, filled it with mercury and stood it open end down in a trough filled with the same metal. The level of the mercury fell to 76cm, leaving a vacuum above. This level varied with changes in atmospheric pressure; it was the first barometer. These days, your barometer is more likely to be of the compact, air filled Aneroid variety. Either way, if you’re a proper angler, you need your own weather station. Go tap that glass.

What do you reckon – have we missed anything out? Let us know your must have items on Twitter and Facebook!

Valentine’s Day: Seriously steamy seafood

Fish and shellfish are the food of love, the way to your partner’s heart and a wonderful tasty way to begin your Valentine’s celebrations.

To prepare the perfect love potion, it’s time to put away your fishing rod, waist waders and tackle and check out our collection of fishy recipes.

Here are some seriously steamy seafood dishes to get you in the mood…

1. Classic Oysters

Oysters

Image source: Klippigraffen
Ahhh oysters, the original aphrodisiac.

The classic aphrodisiac, there are many who argue that the only way to serve oysters is alive in ice, with a twist of lemon and a drop of tabasco sauce. It’s the taste of the sea that’s rich in zinc which is good for the male reproductive health.

But not everyone likes their oysters raw and wriggling, so for those who don’t why not try our recipe for grilled oysters in lemon garlic butter?

Ingredients

  • One dozen live oysters
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Dash of Tabasco
  • Pinch of sea salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig of finely chopped parsley


  • Method

    1. Fry the garlic in the butter
    2. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper and Tabasco
    3. Shuck the oysters and place them on a grill rack, add small amount of the sauce to each shell and grill on a high heat for five or six minutes until the edge of the flesh starts to curl slightly

    2. Crab cakes with a kick

    Crab cakes with tomato salad

    Image source: evgenyb
    Crab cakes with a chilli kick.

    Never mind that crab is another zinc rich seafood – it belongs on any Valentine’s day menu simply because it’s delicious!

    Here’s a great way to combine the sweetness of the crabmeat with the spicy kick of cayenne pepper. Serve with a lemon mayo dip for starters, or pair with hand cut chips for a rustic main course.

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb cooked crabmeat
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 or 4 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of sweet red pepper finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Cayenne pepper to taste


  • Method
    1. Fry off the garlic, red pepper and spring onions, let cool
    2. Take a bowl and carefully mix the rest of the ingredients together, except for the breadcrumbs
    3. Form the mixture into small balls about 2” in diameter
    4. Lightly coat in breadcrumbs
    5. Fry in butter at a medium to high heat for 3 – 4 minutes per side or until golden brown

    3. Rustic Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse in a cast iron pot

    Image source: HLPhoto
    A true taste of the sea!

    A traditional favourite of Marseille fishermen, you may not have access to some of the fish available in the Med. But that needn’t stop you evoking the sultry flavours of the South of France.

    Ingredients

  • 10 oz fresh mussels
  • 10 oz of firm fleshed fish cut into 1” cubes – monkfish or conger work well
  • 8 oz shell on prawns
  • 8 oz fish stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Splash of dry white wine
  • Pinch of fennel seeds
  • Cayenne pepper to taste


  • Method
    1. Lightly fry the onion and garlic, add the tomatoes, fish stock, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, white wine and olive oil and fennel seeds.
    2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3. Add the fish and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
    4. Now add the mussels and prawns and simmer for 6 – 8 minutes.
    5. Remove from the heat, remove any unopened mussels and discard.
    6. Serve with crusty French bread.

    4. Tuna Sashimi

    Plate of fresh raw Tuna Sashimi served with soy sauce wasabi and ginger

    Image source: JRBJR
    For those with adventurous tastebuds.

    A team of Japanese and American researchers took a sample of 78 students, both male and female and fed them supposed aphrodisiacs, testing after 30 mins and 60 mins for a sexual response to visual stimuli.

    They discovered that the most ‘stimulating’ of foods was Tuna sashimi which elicited a sexual response in 90.2% of males and 72.3% of females. With a success rate like that, it’s no wonder raw tuna makes our Valentine’s menu.

    Ingredients

  • Fresh raw tuna
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger


  • Method
    1. Slice the tuna as thinly as you possibly can*
    2. Add soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi to taste

    *If possible employ a sushi chef – it takes at least 2 years training to do it properly!

    5. Simple Salmon

    Salmon served with asparagus

    Image source: legaa
    A simple salmon supper – delicious!

    What you’re getting with salmon is protein, serotonin, and mood protecting fish oils. It’s a versatile ingredient full of vitamins and minerals that might also have the added bonus of pepping up your love life.

    Why not try this simple salmon miso marinade and watch Cupid’s arrow fly.The slightly sweet and salty taste of the marinade works wonderfully with the oily fish, delicious!

    Ingredients

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • Miso paste
  • Soy sauce
  • Fresh bunch of asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • Method
    1. Mix miso with soy sauce to make a marinade.
    2. Coat the salmon and leave to steep under cover in the fridge for between an hour and overnight if it’s a strong taste you’re after.
    3. Grill the salmon under a medium heat for between 5 and 7 minutes a side, or until cooked.
    4. Pan fry asparagus in butter
    5. Serve together

    What’s the difference between a bivvy and a tent?

    Some say it’s a case of horses for courses, we say if you’re an angler it’s a bivvy you need not a tent.

    But what’s the difference? And why does that make a bivvy the correct tool for the job of keeping you warm and dry on the river bank?

    Here’s what makes a bivvy a far superior shelter for people who fish.

    Not a family holiday!

    Camping Family Holiday

    Image source: Monkey Business Images
    Family holiday – the perfect tent occasion!

    Tents are for campers and either bulky enough to fill the boot of the car and accommodate the whole family for a fortnight in France, or lightweight enough to be carried long distances on trekking adventures.

    But while you might want to go for a lightweight bivvy if you’re planning a long walk in to remote reservoir, lake or stretch of river, you’ll still find that your average bivvy is, for its size, of much sturdier construction than a tent. Heavy duty nylon fabrics and sturdy frames are designed to withstand wet and windy weather – often the best conditions for snagging a big carp!

    Quick to erect

    A bivvy is designed to be erected in seconds. And while some might say the same goes for tents, there is a difference. A bivvy is constructed so that not only does it snap into shape at the drop of a hat, but because we know you might need to move it several times in a single angling session, it’s also designed to either pick up and plonk, or collapse and re-erect in seconds.

    Because we know it needs to cope with frequent re-pitching, a bivvy is mechanically more resilient – it won’t have multiple poles that need threading through the flysheet. Instead look for umbrella designs, and features like built in groundsheets, double skins for heat retention and wide double stitched and taped seams.

    Designed for fishing

    Fishing Bivvys set up on river ready for fishing.

    Image source: Andyone
    Bivvies are designed with fishing in mind.

    A tent is designed primarily for sleeping in. A bivvy is for fishing from, and that plays a big part in the way it’s designed and constructed.

    Generous head height enables you to sit upright in a chair inside. Wide openings accommodate either a pair of anglers sat side by side, or a single bed-chair. A deep hood provides great rain protection while the door is open – porch windows enable anglers to keep one eye on their bite alarms while zipped up snug. And then there’s the colour – it’s designed to merge with your surroundings, not stick out like a sore thumb.

    Banned

    Festival tents

    Image source: Petr Jilek
    No tents allowed!

    And then of course there’s the fact that some fisheries won’t let you pitch a tent in the first place. A draconian measure – or a sensible rule? There is a school of thought which suggests that allowing a proliferation of cheap beach tents at any given lake encourages a clientele whose main interest is “refreshment” not angling.

    And a garish collection of multicoloured tents is less than restful on the eye too. We say, get the right tool for the job. It’s angling you’re into – it’s a bivvy you need. And if a new one isn’t an option, check out the multitude of online fishing forums for the second hand market alternative.

    Quiz: How old is that fish?

    Sea creatures are some of the longest living organisms on earth.

    Some of them rack up more years of life than the maximum meterage of fishing line you can squeeze onto your sea fishing reel.

    But who lives longest: koi carp or bow head whale? Lobster or orange roughy? Take our quiz to see if you know how long until each critter croaks.

    Make a note of your answers and scroll down to the bottom for the answers.

    1. Orange Roughy

    Orange Roughy

    Image source: CSIRO
    Stocks are diminishing

    You’ll find orange roughy served up in restaurants and fish and chip shops the world over, but should you eat it?

    A very slow growing deep sea fish, its flesh is tasty enough but contains high levels of mercury.

    And when you consider it doesn’t even reach sexual maturity until it hits its mid twenties, it’s not surprising populations are vulnerable to overfishing.

    Stocks in the oceans off Australia and New Zealand have already crashed and other stocks are fast dwindling.

    What’s the lifespan of an Orange Roughy?

    A) 72 years
    B) 150 years
    C) 205 years

    2. Koi Carp

    Koi Carp

    Image source: 3268zauber
    The $1,000,000 fish!

    The rarest, biggest and most beautiful (if you like that kind of thing) Koi carp change hands for big bucks.

    And some of the most expensive are displayed in the atria of swanky head offices of some of Japan’s most successful corporations. At the peak of the Koi boom in the 1980, it’s thought fish changed hands for upwards of $1 million – or $2.2 million in today’s money.

    UK carp have been known to live for upwards of 60 years – plenty of time to learn how to evade all but the most skilled wielder of a carp fishing rod, but how about the longest lived of the ornamental variety?

    What’s the longest a Koi Carp has ever lived?

    A) 36 years
    B) 174 years
    C) 225 years

    3. Bowhead Whale

    Bowhead whale

    Image source: Olga Shpak
    How long do these giants live for?

    Scientists keen to discover what makes us kick the bucket recently mapped the genome of this long lived whale.

    In 2007, a 49ft bowhead whale caught off the coast of Alaska was found to have lodged in its flesh the remains of an exploding harpoon.

    The artefact dated from 1890 meaning the whale survived an attempt on its life in the same year the Forth Bridge opened, Authur Conan Doyle published his second novel, ‘The Sign of the Four’, and the US 7th cavalry massacred at least 200 Lakota men, women and children at Wounded Knee.

    Clearly an old whale – but how old?

    How old did the oldest Bowhead Whale live for?

    A) 89 years
    B) 211 years
    C) 345

    4. Lobster

    Lobster

    Image source: Cefaclor
    Shell shedders.

    They keep growing until they die, but we’ll let you have this clue: contrary to plentiful claims that lobsters are immortal, they’re not.

    To grow, a lobster has to shed its shell, something it does many times throughout its life. In fact in the first year of life, a baby lobster can shed over 40 times. But as it grows older, the process slows so that by the age of about seven, it moults just once a year, and thereafter only every three or four years.

    Casting off an old shell and growing a new one takes energy and it seems that by the time a lobster reaches its maximum life span, it no longer has the energy to cast off its shell. Though a lobster doesn’t age in the way that other creatures do, its final shell gets bashed and battered until bacteria seep into the cracks and eventually kill it off.

    But how old is a lobster before it goes belly up?

    A) 140 years
    B) 204 years
    C) 456 years

    5. Sturgeon

    Sturgeon

    Image source: Aarchiba
    Unchanged in 135 million years.

    A living fossil, North American lake sturgeon belong to a family of fish that have remained largely unchanged for 135 million years.

    Their bony side plates, greenish grey colouring and pointed snouts, certainly look like they hail from the time when dinosaurs roamed the planet, but how long does a single specimen live?

    To make it easier, we’ll give you a clue – males can live for around 55 years.

    But up to how long can the female of the species live?

    A) 70 years
    B) 80 years
    C) 150 years

    6. Molluscs

    Mollusc

    Image source: Hans Hillewaert
    Remember Ming the mollusc?

    Ming the mollusc was a clam trawled from the seabed off the coast of Iceland in 2006.

    When examined by scientists, it caused great excitement because it was clearly so old. The fact that the creature turned out to be even older than originally thought lent a certain poignancy to the story because in the attempt to count its growth rings, scientists accidentally killed it.

    No one will ever know how old Ming might have become if left alone in the watery deep.

    How old was Ming when its life was cut tragically short?

    A) 234 years
    B) 398 years
    C) 507 years

    7. Red Sea Urchin

    Red Sea Urchin

    Image source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    Incredible creatures.

    The Japanese consider their sex organs to be a delicacy, the Maori have consumed ‘kina’ since pre-European times, but tasty though they may be, the sea urchin is also an astonishing creature.

    Hundreds of hydraulically operated tube legs enable it to move in any direction while its spines can be coordinated to point in the direction of a threat.

    Sensitive to touch, light and chemicals, the sea urchin’s entire body acts like a kind of compound eye. Oh, and it can live for a very long time.

    Typically, how long can a Red Sea Urchin live for?

    A) 50 years
    B) 200 years
    C) 1000 years

    ANSWERS BELOW!

    1. Orange roughy: B) 150 years
    2. Koi carp: C) 225 years
    3. Bowhead whale: B) 211 years
    4. Lobster: A) 140 years
    5. Sturgeon: C) 150 years
    6. Mollusc: C) 507 years
    7. Red sea Urchin: B) 200 years

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