Fourth March Blog.
Trickling water, o’er stony bed,
Hiding salmon fry,
Seeking the ocean,
Distant surf, to feed
Amongst salty fish
To swim the vast ocean,
Returning years hence,
To the same river of spawning,
Dodging bears and eagles,
Finally reaching limpid pools,
To lay eggs,
Then to die.
Such is the cycle
Cooyright Evelyn J. Steward. March 2016.
One has to wonder at the wonder of fish!
(The picture is just a general idea of some edible fish).
Why? I hear you say. That, my friends, is the question. We live on land. Air-breathing creatures who have, some of us, learned to swim ( not myself, who would drown) and with modern technology, can dive into waters with tanks of compressed air. The swimmers/divers see all kinds of fish and other creatures, living quite at home in water, salt and fresh.
Rivers, pools, lakes and oceans are packed with fish, all shapes all sizes, all colours, all living in that alienating substance.
Certainly, thousands of years ago in man’s infancy, most ‘people’ ( I use the word advisedly) did not live near an ocean, or even a river or lake. Would not even seem to venture into strange waters they came across in their travels to observe and think of venturing in or on this wet world, so different from land, ( to catch fish, swimming about or crustaceans further out), to feed themselves.
So when did ‘we’ overcome fears to discover the wealth of a food source that resided in water? I wonder? I do not know the answer but I guess it must have been gradual and possibly at first, more accidental than by design. Some may have found shellfish on the shore, pethaps fish that crept out of the ooze or jumped and landed on dry land accidentally. Better minds than mine must have a more informed opinion than I.
Suffice it to say, that somewhere down the line, what then passed for people, found a type of edible food near ir in the edge of water to sustain them. First shallow shores, then later, perhaps, tickling, or some kind of hook and line and found that fishing could be good, productive.
Aeons later, boats were better for catching more and larger fish, often by teamwork maybe? Who knows? Suffice it to say that over lots of time, fish and shellfish of numerous types became one of the normal food substances for our forefathers, worldwide.
However, in this modern day and age, I feel that many more varieties could be farmed and utilised as food sources. It just takes a bit more thinking about rather than depleting the more common varieties that have been overfished. Another disturbing problem is this Quota situation, brought to the European Paliament by Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, but which seemsto have done little in the short term about dumping perfectly edible fish.
I also subscribe to ‘farming’ fish in good ( possibly Scottish) waters in large ‘tanks’ by ‘growing’ eggs and fry. I know it may not be so cost effective, but it would be sustainable fishing! Some tanks already exist for salmon of course, but I believe another variety of white fish is being tried out in this manner, albeit on a small scale as yet ( also some lobsters in mini tanks -alone as they would fight and kill each other if they were all together).
What is your favourite fish? I like Haddock and Sea Bass and Trout, and in season, Sprats for fresh fish, my favourite smoked fish is Wild Alaskan Salmon (in my humble opinion, the best tasting smoked salmon) which is more expensive here than the farmed smoked salmon, smoked trout and on occasion, Kippers and Arbroath Smokey ( when I can get it, not often). I do like shellfish, cockles, winkles ( though they are not available now), Prawns and Shrimps, especially English Brown shrimps, Lobster and Brown Crab. I cannot eat mussels though. Though this amount of varieties is small comparef with the amount of different fish around our shores, even if I include varities I am not keen on or do not eat or buy for one reason or anothet.
I am sure fish all over the world is different, I know Australia has some weird and wonderful fish and shellfish varieties, have seen them on t.v. Programmes of many kinds. How exciting to try something new? Bugs, for instance, a special shellfish creature off the shores of southern Australia. Abalone and so on. There is a world full of possibilities just waiting to feed us, yeah, us, the top preditor. Loads of new protein I would love to try.
***The surf thunders in, beating against the sandstone rocks, spray covering the lone fisherman. He jumos back a couple of steps. Too late! He is drenched. Never mind, he has togged up for this session and worries not.
Wet hands tie the hook to the line on his rod, and in the lull, he twitches the rod, his line flying out into the surf fifty yards. The undertow takes the hook down to where the fish feed. Baited, the weights keep it low, ready for a piscatorial challenge. Several fish feed in its vivinity, but the man wants only one kind. His favourite. This one will be his supper. This one, his wife will cook to perfection and his two children will enjoy the flavour.
Suddenly and silently the line jerks a little. He has bern waiting for this telltale sign.
Slowly, he winds an inch or two on the reel. The line becomes taut but he is not yet certain. It tightens and another couple of inches is reeled.
Snap, he has it and reels faster. The fish is fighting but as he reels he is careful not to jerk the rod. Too fast, and the fish could jump off the hook. But he sees it now. Braving the surf spray, he must not move. Must not loose tension on the rod.
Finally he feels the tiredness of the fish who is giving up the fight. The end of the line is close. Only a few feet. With surpreme effort, he hooks the rod. Line and fish sail over his head to land on the rocks behind him. He sighs audibly, moves out of the next huge spray, back to where the fish lies gasping.
It is big. Eight pounder at least. Tonight he will not go home empty-handed.***
Cooyright Evelyn J. Steward. March 2016.
Be aware, out in this great world of ours, have fun but be safe.