As a boy learning to fish, I was as the saying goes, taken in hook, line, and sinker. Starting out, my mum offered to cook the catch, provided I prepared it. So, aged nine, armed with my penknife I sat outside gutting trout on newspaper, feeding unappetising bits to my purring cat. As a Piscean and now an avid fisherman, I would much rather prep fish than make a chocolate dessert.
I have travelled widely and found myself in some unusual circumstances in the pursuit of gastronomy. Whenever I can, I use my travels to go fishing, or observe, cook, or eat things fish-related.
I marvel at my lively silver quarry when it is swimming in the sea, I also see it as a delicious part of the next meal. A fish that you release makes you very environmentally aware. How you treat these majestic scaled creatures has a direct impact on the survival of their species. There is no better thrill than fly-fishing for a great fish and then with one solid flick of the tail it will be off, back to ruling its aquatic domain.
The Latin saying Piscator non solum piscatur translates as “a fisherman not just a catcher of fish”. The motto of a tight band of fishing buddies, to which I am a proud member.(Membership of the Serious Waders Club currently stands at six). We fish in unspoilt places that are barely touched by human activity
You become a link in a vivid, hungry, aquatic food chain. There is always something bigger down there that has got its eye on the same thing that you have. Or is there? The great food chains of the oceans are being assaulted from all sides. These marine habitats are being depleted and damaged beyond repair. Stocks are being hoovered up at a rate that puts their long-term survival in serious jeopardy. Yet our voracious appetite, greed and lack of knowledge of the deep makes it look as if we don’t really care, or do not believe the reports that fish supplies in our oceans are fast running out. The advances in aquaculture methods are not addressing the problem that wild stocks are being exhausted.
Sustainability is not a new buzz-word, communities that live by the sea and indigenous people have fished in this manner for millennia. They live by following the seasons, respecting breeding times and aquatic habitats, allowing time to mature and returning juveniles when caught. This approach takes a huge pressure off wild species to fight for their own survival. It is only recently that we seem to have forgotten how to respect the natural cycle of life. We must support the oceans so that they can provide us with a bounteous harvest for generations to come.
I want this book to help tell the story of pioneering fisheries around the world. I hope to use my love of food, fish and far-flung places to educate a broader audience about the importance of harvesting wild fish by sustainable means. I want to invite you to be part of the future of these fisheries and the communities that they support. Ultimately, I want my great-grandchildren to be able to wheel me onto a reef or atoll when I am 98 years old to catch magnificent wild fish in their original oceanic habitat