All posts by Robin Falvey

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

Carp fishing tackle 525x257 Readers favourite 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

Sea fishing tackle 525x259 Readers favourite fishing tackle

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

Fly fishing tackle 525x237 Readers favourite fishing tackle

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

Extra fishing tackle 525x285 Readers favourite fishing tackle

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

Seaweed 525x297 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

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

Sexant 525x324 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

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

Lunar Calendar 525x269 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

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

Tide clock 525x303 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

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

Barometer 525x342 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

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 525x312 Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

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 525x350 Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

    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 525x348 Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

    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

    Tuna sashimi Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

    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 Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

    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!

    family holiday 525x350 Whats the difference between a bivvy and a tent?

    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 Bivvy 525x306 Whats the difference between a bivvy and a tent?

    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

    Banned tents 525x350 Whats the difference between a bivvy and a tent?

    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 Quiz: How old is that fish?

    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 Quiz: How old is that fish?

    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 Quiz: How old is that fish?

    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 Quiz: How old is that fish?

    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  Quiz: How old is that fish?

    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

    Ming the mollosc Quiz: How old is that fish?

    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 Quiz: How old is that fish?

    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

    How did you do? Share you score and thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter

    Fish Art

    Fishing is an art in itself, but how about fishing art? Investing in a piece of angling related art work is about more than buying a painting or print to decorate a wall.

    The artwork you choose to display at home reflects your character and passion. And let’s face it, when you’re stuck at home, your fishing rods and tackle packed away in the cupboard, fishing art keeps you connected to your favourite sport.

    But what do you buy? To help you answer that question, here we profile some of today’s most admired angling and fishing artists.

    David Miller

    David Miller 525x314 Fish Art

    Image source: David Miller
    Before painting, David videos his subjects underwater.

    The stunning images of fish that decorate the Environment Agency’s credit card style fishing rod licence are the work of prolific nature artist, David Miller. Stunned by the lifelike representation of fish in his paintings? David snorkels and dives in rivers and gravel pits, using photography and video to capture images of his subjects in their natural environment. It’s an astonishing level of dedication that helps him achieve a mastery of his art that’s hard to match.

    One of the contemporary top fishing painters, his work is well sought after with a growing national and international reputation. Prices for original oils start at around £450. A print costs between £60 and £90 and can be supplied mounted for an extra fee. Check out his website for more details.

    Karen Sarkar

    Karen Sarkar 525x352 Fish Art

    Image source: Karen Sarkar
    Want your catch immortalised in paint? Karen takes commissions!

    It’s the essence of her subjects that Karen Sarkar tries to capture in her work, and as a keen angler, her fish paintings do just that. Highly collectable and appearing in fine art publications, her paintings in oil place her among the top angling artists in the country. Caught the fish of your life? Karen takes commissions  – what better way to remember that special moment?

    If you’d like to own a piece of art by Karen, visit her website to find out more.

    Chris Turnbull

    Chris Turnbull 525x395 Fish Art

    Image source: Chris Turnbull
    Chris has been creating fish fine art since the ’80s!

    “Beneath the ripples, the glare and reflections, is another world not seen by many. Come, let us go there!”

    So says artist Chris Turnbull, and we think you’ll agree that his art really does capture the beauty and mystery that lies beneath the water’s surface.

    ‘Roach: the Gentle Giant’ and ‘In Visible Waters’, by John Bailey, ‘The Angler’s Guide to Freshwater Fish’ by John Wilson and ‘Mammoth Pike’, by Neville Fickling – are among the many publications to have featured art by Chris Turnbull. Immensely experienced, and a true master of his art, Chris has been producing fine art representations of fish in their underwater habitat since the 1980s.

    Interested in buying one of his original works? Get in touch for a price. A3 Giclee prints are £78, A4 £65.

    Carl Ellis

    Carl Ellis 525x338 Fish Art

    Image source: Carl Ellis
    Carl’s lifelike flickers and flashes of fish.

    Movement, expression and immediacy are the hallmarks of paintings and drawings by Carl Ellis. A member of the Society of Wildlife Artists since 2001, his work is collected all  over the world. Catching sticklebacks in the canal near his Liverpool home sparked Carl’s lifelong interest in fish, an interest that developed alongside his passion for drawing and painting.

    Applying oil paint using wax pastels, erasers and even his fingers, Carl’s unique paintings offer glimpses of fish as you would see them in life. His works catch that glimmer beneath the surface, the swish of a tail, the flicker and flash of the shoal in a way that makes his paintings a truly immersive experience.

    Contact Carl via his website for prices and availability.

    Susie Ray

    Susie Ray 515x395 Fish Art

    Image source: Susie Ray
    Susie uses 18th century techniques to create distinctive sea-life imprints.

    In the 18th and 19th centuries, Japanese fishermen used edible ink and rice paper to produce ‘rubbings’ of prize catches and unusual finds. Now that technique has been revived in Cornwall by artist Susie Ray. Using oil paints and cotton cloth, Susie captures the imprint of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. By scanning the results into digital format, she is able to produce high quality prints – with no fishy odor!

    Unique reproductions of prawns, crabs, squid, mackerel to name but few, Susies work offers a truly fascinating and novel way to look at fish and other marine species, enabling the viewer to see in minute detail the texture and detail of the creature’s skin or shell.

    Susie sells through the Padstow Mussel Co. And as well as beautiful prints produces fish rubbings on ceramics. Prices for prints range from £29 – £58.

    If you’re an artist that paints fish, get in touch in the comment section below and we’ll do a review!

    Nautical thieves: Video evidence!

    TV shows like the BBC’s ‘Crime Watch’ showcase CCTV recordings of criminals in action, hoping for a all important tip-off that could lead to arrest.

    Take a look at the following footage – fish-lovin’ thieves stealing the prize catch from innocent anglers. It’s unlikely any of these felons will do time, but the crime scene footage will raise a wry smile or two!

    That’s a crime!

    These two lucky guys pose with their catch of Mahimahi – how quickly their joy turned to sorrow…

    Spearfishing gone bad

    Ever been tempted to take up spearfishing? You’ll think twice once you’ve seen this…

    Net hacker

    No we’re not talking about the Internet – watch what happens when this whale shark encounters a full fishing net…

    Cat burglar

    This sneaky cat waited on the periphery and struck at the perfect moment. It might only be a quickie, but this one is comedy gold.

    Place your catch with care

    These guys might want to rethink where they put their catches, especially if this sneaky otter is about.

    Refined tastes

    This tech-loving octopus is more interested in this guys video camera and fishing tackle! Watch as the octopus successfully steals the camera and continues filming…

     

    Christmas fishing folk tales

    Dicken’s Christmas Carol is one of the most famous ghost stories ever told.

    The spooky writings of MR James were originally Christmas Eve tales the Cambridge don told to entertain his students; Susan Hill’s acclaimed gothic ghost story, the Woman in Black is recounted during a Christmas Eve house party. Christmas ghosts are a rich tradition that harks back to Victorian times and beyond.

    But what about ghostly fishing stories? Tales of the sea, pond or riverbank that will have your carp fishing equipment trembling in your hands…

    Hella Point

    1. Shipwreck 525x350 Christmas fishing folk tales

    Image source: AlienCat
    The chilling tale of a missing sailor, love and a shipwreck.

    The Southern tip of Cornwall is a wind ravaged place. Isolated and bleak, in winter, its cliffs and coves are storm lashed and lethal. When young Nancy fell for swashbuckling sailor called William, their union was frowned upon by the girl’s family and she was forbidden from ever seeing him again.

    But the two met in secret on the beach at Porthgwarra, where they pledged their undying love for each other.

    When William returned to sea, Nancy would pace the headland at Hella point, looking out for the return of her lover. But as weeks turned to months, and still there was no sign of him, Nancy became frantic with worry, and nothing anyone said could calm her.

    Then one stormy evening, an old woman saw Nancy down in the cove. Sat on a rock, huge waves roared and seethed around her. The elderly woman began to hobble down to the beach to warn the girl of the danger of the tide. But then she stopped in her tracks, for there sitting beside the girl was none other than the missing sailor.

    A breaker rolled into the bay, and broke over the rock. Nancy disappeared, never to be seen again. And when news came to the tiny hamlet, it told of shipwreck and disaster. Williams ship had sunk, and all aboard were drowned.

    Dead fisherman’s family

    2. Dead fishermans family 525x393 Christmas fishing folk tales

    Image source: donatas1205
    A starved fisherman’s family haunt this river.

    The river Adur in West Sussex is a spooky body of water if ever there was one. One of the sights that greets visitors is an old wooden boat, long since wrecked, its rotting timbers slowly decaying in the turgid river current.

    On dark nights, it’s said, anglers have been chilled to the marrow by the sound of sobbing that emanates from the boat’s crumbling bulwarks. Closer inspection reveals the spectral horror of a woman and her children damned to an eternity of sobbing despair.

    The boat once belonged to a fisherman. One dark night in 1893, a tempest blew his fragile craft upriver from Shoreham harbour to be wrecked on the rocky riverbank. No matter how hard the poor man tried, he couldn’t refloat his boat.

    Death by starvation was the fate of the fisherman and his entire family. Now the ghosts of those unfortunates appear hollow eyed and desperate, forever trying to push the boat back out to sea.

    Jack Harry’s lights

    3. Jack Harrys Lights 525x350 Christmas fishing folk tales

    Image source: Digital Storm
    A ghosty ship in St Ives Bay, yep, you’ve seen Jack Harry’s Lights.

    If ever you’re out sea fishing at St Ives Bay and you see a ghostly ship cruise against wind and tide across the bay, put away your tackle and run for dry land. If ever you see the lights of that dread ship glimmer and disappear in the night – run for your your life because disaster will surely follow.

    You’re gazing upon ‘Jack Harry’s lights’.

    Jack Harry was the man who one afternoon watched a ship sail into the bay. He watched with horror as it sailed straight onto the rocks. Horrified, he ran to round up a rescue crew who rowed to the stricken vessel intent on saving as many of the crew as they could.

    Just as they reached the ship and Jack went to step aboard, it disappeared. Confused and scared, the men returned to shore. Later that night, another ship was seen to founder. But fearing it was another ‘ghost ship’, nobody would put to sea to rescue her crew.

    But this ship was real all right. The Neptune was wrecked on the rocks and next morning, the first of the bodies washed ashore. For ever after, Jack Harry’s lights have been seen up and down the rocky Cornish coast. And they’re always an omen of ill fortune and death.

    The Ghost of Claremont lake

    4. The Ghost of Claremont lake 525x393 Christmas fishing folk tales

    Image source: n1kcy
    A ghost with a grudge lurks on this lake.

    Think phantoms are confined to wild Cornish coasts? Think again, all you carp fishermen. Claremont Lake in Esher is as haunted as they come. It’s a National Trust property now, but even if you could fish there, you’d do so at your peril.

    William Kent was a renowned landscape gardener. When he was hired to revamp the grounds by Claremont House’s owner, the Duke of Newcastle, he must have been delighted at the prospect of completing such a high profile project.

    Kent set to, moving streams and creating a stunning new lake fed from a grotto. But when the work was done, the Duke welched on the deal, offering to pay a paltry £100 for the huge works. Facing financial ruin, Kent argued the point, and the Duke responded by having the man thrown in his own lake.

    William Kent caught cold and died a penniless pauper. Now on dark misty nights, the figure of the dead designer walks the grounds. Dressed in long brown cloak and gaiters, his tormented spirit is doomed to haunt the lake forever.  

    Save our eels!

    Eels are in danger of becoming extinct in our rivers, and without them, the fragile ecosystems of our wetlands will be seriously impoverished.

    Since the 1980s, we’ve lost a staggering 95% of our eel populations – populations that used to be so vast people were once paid in eels. But now, as stocks dwindle, the last of the remaining eel fishermen are packing up their fishing equipment forever.

    But while the eel is still with us, there’s hope, and now the eel men are fighting back. Read on to find out what’s being done to save the eels, and how can you play your part to help stocks recover.

    Eels

    Spotted Garden Eel Save our eels!

    Image source: Peter Dutton
    Eels are mysterious creatures.

    Izaak Walton, who penned, The Compleat Angler, thought eels were generated by the “action of sunlight on dewdrops”; a wise old bishop once told the Royal Society that eels slid from the thatched roofs of cottages; some thought they materialised from the mud at the bottom of rivers; even Aristotle was flummoxed – he thought eels were “born of nothing”.

    Now we know that eels are born in the Sargasso sea, but to this day nobody has ever seen an adult eel there, or for that matter an eel egg. What we do know is that they’re disappearing from our rivers.

    Life cycle

    Glass eels Save our eels!

    Image source: Wikimedia
    Glass eels, before they gain colour.

    When eels hatch, they’re minute, flat, willow leaf shaped and see-through. It takes them about two years drifting in the Gulf Stream to reach the shores of Europe. By this time, they’re 7 – 8 cm – so called ‘glass eels’. They swim and slither up our rivers, gaining colour as they go, until they find a nice spot and there they’ll stay, males for around seven years, females for perhaps 12; some linger for even longer, eating, swelling, becoming darker in colour.

    Then, for reasons unknown, one dark autumn night they turn mottled green on top and silver underneath, and leave the river, swimming the 3000 miles back to the Sargasso sea where they (apparently) spawn and die.

    Concrete evidence

    Grey Heron swallowing an eel Save our eels!

    Image source: Gidzy
    The eel faces a lot of threats – including the heron!

    So why have populations crashed? Like many other species, the eel has suffered a battering from a multitude of threats – we’re talking disease, pollution, loss of habitat, climate change, water abstraction and flood prevention schemes. Chief culprit for the steep slide in eel stocks is thought to be the sheer number of obstacles barring eels’ passage up river.  

    But now, thanks to EU intervention and the tireless efforts of eel campaigners, it looks as though the tide is turning. Huge efforts are being made to restock our rivers – this year alone, over 90 million eels have been translocated from estuaries into rivers all over Europe. That’s good, but to create a sustainable future for eels, much more needs to be done to fit eel passes to river obstructions. Unless they can get up and down rivers, eels can’t complete their life cycles.

    Your help

    Jellied eels Save our eels!

    Image source: Jessica Spengler
    Anyone for jellied eels?

    The best thing you can do to help reverse the decline in eel stocks is to eat eels. This might sound counterintuitive, but sustainable fisheries are key to ensuring a bright future for one of our rivers’ most vital natural resources. That’s because, responsible fishing communities fight hard to look after their way of life.

    Whether you like your eels, fresh, jellied or smoked, look for the ‘Sustainable Eel Group’ Kitemark on the packaging and enjoy a delicious, traditional treat, safe in the knowledge that you’re helping replenish our eels for future generations to enjoy!

    6 Seafaring tattoos & their meanings

    Ever considered having a harpoon tattooed across your chest? No? As an avid angler, perhaps you should consider it.

    Traditional tattoos are imbued with deep meanings and as an enthusiastic hefter of a fishing rod and reel – the inking of a harpoon on your skin indicates you’re a member of the fishing fleet!

    Read on to discover the significance of seafarers’ tats – nautical ink for salty sea dogs!

    1. Hold fast

    Hold Fast 6 Seafaring tattoos & their meanings

    Image source: Thor
    A very literal tattoo for some!

    Never mind knuckles of “Love” and “Hate” – for sailors on the main, there was little time for bare knuckle boxing; far more important was to keep a firm hold of the rigging. Back in the golden age of sail there were no safety lines, no deck lights and no life jackets. One slip while working aloft  and you either thudded into the deck, leaving a nasty mess for your shipmates to clean up, or you plopped into the brine and sank to the “Odd Place” – Davey Jones’ locker.

    No wonder sailors had the words “Hold” and “Fast” tattooed to their knuckles – it was an ever present reminder to cling on tight!

    2. Compass rose

    Compass 6 Seafaring tattoos & their meanings

    Image source: Lady Dragonfly CC
    Never get lost again.

    Such were the rigours of life at sea that many an able seaman perished by cannon ball, man-overboard, tropical miasma, gruesome discipline, falling spars, swinging blocks…the list of ways to die was long. No wonder sailors are such a superstitious bunch.

    Chief among the concerns of seafaring men was getting back home. The inking of a compass rose on your skin was for luck in finding the way to your loved ones. And the nautical star? That represents the pole star – with one of those tattooed on your body, you need never be lost.

    3. Swallow

    Swallows 6 Seafaring tattoos & their meanings

    Image source: Tony Atler
    One swallow = 5000 miles of sea travel.

    One way to tell a seafarer who’d proved worth his salt was to see how many nautical miles he’d covered. But in the days before logbooks and RYA qualifications, sailors made a tally of distances logged directly on their skin.

    Swallows, famed for their long distance migrations, were proof positive of distance travelled. Each bird flying across a man’s skin represented 5000 miles of passage making. A flock of birds made you a true salt.

    4. Ship

    Ship1 6 Seafaring tattoos & their meanings

    Image source: Sarah-Rose
    Made it through Cape Horn? Better get a ship tat stat.

    Anglers are a competitive bunch. Let’s face it, if you’d caught a monster carp like Two Tone (RIP) chances are you might think about inking your achievement on a shoulder or arm – a permanent reminder of a day never to forget.

    The same goes for the seafarers of yesteryear. There are certain experiences that make a man a man, and in the days of sailing ships, the toughest challenge of all was facing the “grey beards”, the terrifying, tumultuous waves of Cape Horn. And if you made it through that narrow, shallow bottleneck where the monstrous swells of the Southern Ocean squeeze between the Tip of South America and Antarctica – you’d want to celebrate your survival. A tattoo of a full rigged ship will do it!

    5. Turtle

    Turtle 6 Seafaring tattoos & their meanings

    Image source: Tony Atler
    A cute tattoo with horrid connotations.

    “Hazing” was the name given to the ritualised humiliation of sailors who had not crossed the Equator. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be remembered with a shudder. You could be stripped, beaten, painted, dunked overboard – and all under the very noses of the officers who were supposed to maintain discipline aboard a man o’ war.

    Your crime? You’d crossed the equator and entered Neptune’s realm. Once the torments were over – you were declared a “shell back”, and were permitted to have inked on your body the symbol of a true seaman – a turtle.

    6. Anchor

    Anchor 6 Seafaring tattoos & their meanings

    Image source: Ettore Bechis
    An anchor to keep you grounded.

    Life on the open ocean was harsh and always dangerous, and sailors were away from home for months and often years at a time. It was a life of hardship, mishap and boredom – interspersed with moments of high drama, and terrible danger. Sailors were a breed apart, but like most men separated from friends and family – they dreamed of home.

    No wonder that floating far from hearth and home, and separated from kith and kin, seafarers yearned for the stability of dry land, and familiar faces. They needed something to keep them grounded – an anchor tattoo with the names of their loved ones inscribed beneath. Mum!