All at Sea

John Bailey

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Nov 19, 2020
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Interesting to see the Sunday Times magazine (January 9th 2022) covering the plight of the salmon netsmen of yore. The piece was relatively well informed, to my eyes, lamenting the death of an ages-old way of life more than anything else. I think we would all like there to be enough wild salmon for their craft to recommence, but there are not.

Which I find a shame for gastronomic reasons. I suspect there are not many of us under the age of fifty who actually remember what WILD salmon taste like. My parents were quite well off in the Fifties, but even so, for us the first wild salmon of the year was a massive treat, occurring towards Easter time generally. We all preferred the fish cold, with new potatoes, salad, and my mother’s home-made mayonnaise. I can just about recall the smell and the texture of that wonderful salmon now. I caught a fair few salmon in the Eighties, and I think the last one that I killed for the table would have been around 1988. My wife is an excellent cook. She buys farmed salmon regularly. I always have mine cold, with a dollop of Hellmann’s. It tastes not a jot like my mother’s wild fish of my infancy, and I am sure that is fact not fantasy.

The ST article was quite fair, but certain issues were airbrushed. The grey seal has been protected for over a century and now numbers in excess of 120k animals around our shores. That amounts to 95% of the European population. The article says that seals do not eat salmon, which I find hard to believe. On Blakeney Point in Norfolk I have seen them hunting sea trout and bass with dedication, skill and success, and I cannot believe they make some exception for salmon. A seal who swam the river Wensum and made home in Norwich ate all the pike there so they are hardly afraid of taking big fish, are they? The article also says, rightly, few smolts make it back to the sea… but there is not a single mention of the cormorant word.

The incontestable damage fish farms do to the environment was reasonably fairly covered, though the horrors of the past at least were, once again, treated lightly. For example, the decline in sea trout numbers was passed over. From what I have heard in recent trips to Scotland, fish farms are better regulated than they were in the Nineties, but that much work remains to be done to make them ecologically acceptable.

I have kept this short as I’d like to think others will have read the piece and will have their own observations to make.

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The post 'All at Sea' first appeared in Fish&Fly Magazine.

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JohnH

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May 18, 2006
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Near Southampton
It's slightly unfashionable to say this but anyway... you can see where I live, and as such I am close to some well run commercial small trout stillwaters, with 2 reservoirs being within an acceptable drive for a day's fishing as well. My friends and I greatly enjoy eating what I catch, whether fresh and filleted, made into hot smoked trout pate, or cold smoked by the well known smokery at Chilbolton. The fish really needs to weigh 4lb-plus for the latter. Fish from Avon Springs, John O'Gaunt and Sutton Bingham are particularly good to eat. As is the very occasional chalk stream fish.

I remember that quite a few years ago Tom Williams, the former Somerley river keeper on the Hampshire Avon, wrote that if you fancy some nice cold smoked fish, spare any salmon you may catch and go for a good sized rainbow from a well run lake instead. This in the days when many rod-caught salmon were taken.
 
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uptomyknee_s

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Mar 17, 2010
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1,032
Location
Hampshire
It;'s slightly unfashionable to say this but anyway... you can see where I live, and as such I am close to some well run commercial small trout stillwaters, with 2 reservoirs being within an acceptable drive for a day's fishing as well. My friends and I greatly enjoy eating what I catch, whether fresh and filleted, made into hot smoked trout pate, or cold smoked by the well known smokery at Chilbolton. The fish really needs to weigh 4lb-plus for the latter. Fish from Avon Springs, John O'Gaunt and Sutton Bingham are particularly good to eat. As is the very occasional chalk stream fish.

I remember that quite a few years ago Tom Williams, the former Somerley river keeper on the Hampshire Avon, wrote that if you fancy some nice cold smoked fish, spare any salmon you may catch and go for a good sized rainbow from a well run lake instead. This in the days when many rod-caught salmon were taken.
I do like the Trout from John O'Gaunts.
Nicely conditioned and fighting fit.
 

raphael

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Feb 13, 2010
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461
Location
France, by the banks of river Loire
My wife is an excellent cook. She buys farmed salmon regularly.

Please, M.Bailey, stop it! You cannot ignore deliberately that salmon farming is one major cause of the decline of the remaining stocks of wild salmon, and as all of us you know why. You can not tell us stories about a brilliant past and afford such contradiction with the needs for conservation of wild fish.
I do not buy farmed salmon, I'm telling all my relatives and friends not to buy that thing, sometimes even to unkown people at the supermarket. I've killed four grisles in my life because they were tagged for research purpose (Erriff river, ROI) and it was mandatory. Yes, then you can say that farmed fish is rubbish, not only in open nets but even in the plate.

Yours,

Raphael
 

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