January 25, 2016 by Whispering Smith
Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette January 21st 2016
WHEN it comes to fine fish there are none better than our own wild sea bass, not to be confused with the European farmed fish found on the supermarket slabs or neatly shrink wrapped in the fish and meat section. This handsome critter is both a fine game fish, you know when you have one on the end of your line, and a popular tasty table fish. They are slow growing and, according to the science, in decline. However, plans to halt the decline seem to me to be far from fair or effective. Beach anglers or charter boat anglers are to be told they can only land one fish per day per person during a shortened season whilst gill netters have had their quota enlarged and the season extended. I doubt you will find a single Littlehampton fisherman likely to vote that we stay in the EU come the referendum. As a footnote, several years back I climbed down a rugged cliff in North Devon, near Hartland Point and hooked into a four pounder, beached it and as I unhooked the lure and looked into the coal black Atlantic eyes I swear it looked right back at me. Moved and knowing it was a hen fish, I popped it back into the roaring surf. I hope she fared well, lived to spawn many times and that she was not one of the many I have since bought from Riverside Fish in Pier Road and greedily consumed.
THERE is no definitive proof in the old chestnut that an abundance of berries in the late autumn foretells the coming of a harsh winter and is nature’s way of ensuring the birds have plenty to eat during the cold weather. Yes, it is good for the birds and sometimes the phenomenon coincides with a bad winter but it is in point of fact more likely to do with the weather effect on the bush itself during the previous spring and summer. In other words it is good for the health of the plant and if that benefits the wild things as well then so much the better. If you really want to know what the coming winter holds read the usual gloomy headlines of the Daily Express or better yet, look out of your window…