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Fishy catch is no longer served

perch,European,Perca. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. © Dgp.martin
When I was kid, my Dad and I used to go fishing in the River Thames in south London on Sunday mornings and catch perch (above, click to enlarge) for our lunch. We’d go out in our home-made double kayak and, with minnows or worms as bait, and catch a tasty meal.

Times have changed.

When out walking by the River Nene in Northamptonshire on my recent trip back to England, I again came across this sign on a gate that led down to the river. It states, in ten languages: “All fish to be returned. No fish to be taken away.” (right, click to enlarge) Apart from the crude and unnecessary tautology, this is all a bit sad. And anyway, what about Notice,taking fish banned. Image © (all rights reserved) the other seventy languages spoken by the 173,000 people in the nearby city of Peterborough?

In Britain's Guardian newspaper recently, hunter-gatherer Nick Weston encouraged people to eat freshwater fish and produced a furious reaction. He has a great piece about cooking pike on his blog, too. But feeling seems generally against eating anything but game fish, and in particular those raised on farms and stocked specifically to be caught.

Of course Americans will be bewildered by this distinction between “game fish” (salmon, trout etc) and “coarse fish” or “freshwater fish” (all the rest). And it's entirely artificial: like saying cutting plants in the rose family for the vase is OK, but not those in the mint family. [It's a class thing, actually - but let's not go there...]

Anyway, this year I’m vowing to cook anything that I can haul out of our lake here in Pennsylvania that I haven’t tried already (not including rocks, logs and bits of old rope, of course). Just to test them all. I'll report here come the spring.

But perhaps I won’t be buying a UK license – it was eating the fish from the river that had me tempted.


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Geoff Hodge

I love going fishing - but I hate eating fish - so I put everything back anyway!

Graham Rice

All the more for the rest of us to catch, Geoff - and to eat!

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