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The good old days ? ? ?

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Wrasse were widely eaten in the islands in the old days and they were popular in the south west.

A wider variety of fish were eaten everywhere, tastes change and often it would have been wrasse or conger or nothing.

Pretty good baked, I take the odd one for my parents and a few other older Jersey people.

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Probably is a strange name for a ballan wrasse but if you think of the scaly nature of the ballan its not too much a stretch of the imagination to liken it to certain carp species. In, (I think) the 17th and 18th centuries (maybe earlier or later) carp were a staple diet of monks at some of the monasteries. Never tasted either so can`t comment on any similarities in that area.


Only other `sea carp' is a reef species found in places like Australia and Indonesia so doubt if that would have been found in UK waters.

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The good old days may, in some way have contributed to the current ` bad old days' I started fishing around 1958 and was well into it by the late sixties and early 70`s in the Clyde area. A lot is blamed on commercial netting nowadays but in the 60`s/70`s in the Clyde, anglers (myself included) did untold damage to the fish stocks, especially cod. The Gantocks, Rhu Narrows, Dunoon Bank and Garroch Head were all hammered by anglers. We`re not talking of a few hundredwight of cod we`re talking tons every weekend taken by anglers. The Gantocks especially took the brunt of it. It was not uncommon to see a dozen or so charter boats (commercials making extra weekend money) and perhaps two dozen or more private small boats all fishing there on Sat / Sun. Regular headlines would read soemthing like " the trio land 1,000lb of cod by lunch and go back for more" The trio were three anglers who mastered the cod in these areas using pirks and bait alike. Plenty of Glasgow taxi cabs found their door handles missing overnight as they made perfect pirks.


The point is that between these `charter' and private boats they landed hundreds of pounds of cod each every fishing day for five or six years

and the end result must surely have been totals reaching thousands of tons over the period, a not insignificant inroads on the stocks, many of which were spawning cod. Commercials did their bit but a lot of the areas such as the Dunoon Bank (or weedbeds) were innaccesible to the type of nets around in those days.


The figures above are guesses but not far off the mark. You also have to remember that similar catches were being taken at Rhu Narrows, in the Gareloch itself, the Garroch Head, Cumbrae, and huge catches from L. Long. 20lb cod were hardly worth a mention and I seem to remember the British cod record being broken three or four times in one season at a time it was around the 40lb mark.


This is not an argument for or against the commercial boats, I get my money easy compared to them, its simply a fact that fish stocks which can take generations to recover in specific areas were hammered well and true by anglers. This affected a considerable area of the marine ecosystem as the cod stocks dwindled. Large Porbeagle shark were around in good numbers on the Ballantrae Banks in winter when the cod and other migratory species were also there but now I would doubt if one or two a season came into that area.


Just some thoughts to ponder

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Guest jay_con

A very sad state of affairs. Just think what might have been had all those fish not been caught by anglers. The sea would still be full to brimming. All those fish in unaccesable areas would never have moved and the area would still be knee deep today.


Unfortunately the cod down here more often than not go back to sea after the swell has died down so just end up in the pair trawl.

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Ballan Wrasse would not be out of place, he was writing in Jersey.



I meant out of place on that list of fish not where they were being caught :)



"Skate Anglers Have Bigger Tackle"

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