Cold Smoked Trout

A long time ago my then girlfriend (now wife) bought me a smoker as a Christmas present. However, the following years spent living in city centre apartments gave scant opportunity to ever try it out and so it languished in my parents’ garage gathering dust … until now!

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You Never Know …

Sometimes you decide to go fishing and everything just feels right.

As you put your tackle in the car you notice that the air is pleasingly mild – too warm and the fish will be dour, similarly if it is too cold – somewhere in between is usually best.

As you drive to the lake you notice the roadside trees are swaying a little – just enough breeze to ensure there will be a ripple on the water to stir your quarry into action.

On arrival, there is not another soul around. You hurriedly pull on your boots, throw your bag over your shoulder and grab your rod. Crossing the field towards the water’s edge you notice a couple of fish move in the distance.

You stand on the bank and assess your options. The water has good clarity, but with just a tinge of colour to leave something to the imagination.

Another fish moves. Your confidence couldn’t be higher. You nervously thread up your rod and prepare for your first cast.

This was not one of those days.

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It’s Called Fishing Not Catching

Social media has been linked to higher levels of envy, anxiety and depression in many sectors of society. I could imagine that anglers are no exception to this rule.

Based on my own feed of images and information on Instagram and Youtube, one could be forgiven for thinking that the catch of a lifetime should be a weekly occurrence for any decent angler or, at least, it only requires the purchase of one more piece of ‘essential kit’.

Too much time spent scrolling through your friends’ fishing pictures can result in the setting of unrealistic expectations for one’s own trips. Moreover, the desire to capture the perfect ‘trophy shot’ of your own to share, can distract from the multitude of other (perhaps more important) reasons why we go fishing.

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Getting hygge with it

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Hygge is a Danish concept that cannot be translated into a single word, but is used to express a feeling of contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

The comforting warmth, flicker and crackle of an open fire is hygge. The smell of fresh coffee on a quiet Sunday morning – that’s hygge, too. Hanging out with a friend on a warm summer’s evening, shooting the breeze over a couple of cold beers – pure hygge. However, sitting alone on a park bench in the freezing winter rain can that be hygge? I was to find out on a winter’s trip to Denmark.

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Pickled Watermelon

This year we attempted to grow some fruit and vegetables in our garden for the first time. It was all a bit trial and error, but one of the surprise success stories were our watermelons – a few seeds thrown down as a bit of an afterthought in mid summer did really well and yielded at least ten decent sized specimens.

We were a little over enthusiastic when the first of the melons reached ‘supermarket size’ and were disappointed to discover that the fruit was not quite ripe. Not wanting to waste the considerable amount of flesh that there was (albeit white rather than pink), we quickly searched the internet for ideas of what to do with unripe melon.

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Mackerel escabeche

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In Norway a few summers back, freshly caught mackerel from the fjord were our staple food for the entire week. They were so plentiful that it was easy to catch enough each day to feed four adults and three hungry children. Simply seasoned and grilled on the barbecue, they provided a healthy, filling and delicious dinner each night. However by the end of the holiday we were all ready for something a bit different, but with several mackerel remaining in the fridge we had to get creative with what we already had.

I had my trusty River Cottage Handbook No. 6 with me and leafing through the pages for inspiration I stumbled across a recipe that sounded perfect for the situation: “a great recipe for using up a glut of oily fish, and it’s perfect for large group of fish diners”. The recipe was ‘escabeche’.

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An Autumn Adventure

A common lament in the angling press these days – at least in the UK – is the dwindling number of people, especially youngsters, entering the sport. Nowadays, with so many other distractions offering instant gratification, encouraging people to take up a hobby which by its very nature requires quiet contemplation, concentration and patience (after all it’s called fishing, not catching!) is bound to be a hard sell.

That said, there is a new generation of ‘influencers’ taking advantage of social media to raise awareness of fishing as the endlessly fascinating and rewarding pursuit that it is. Not long ago I had the pleasure of spending an amazing day on England’s premier salmon river – the River Tyne – with two of them.

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Baked Sea Bass with Lemon, Olives and Rosemary

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Last week we were invited to some friends for our first barbecue of the year and asked to bring some fish for the grill. Not wanting to take over our friends’ kitchen I needed something I could prep at home, parcel up and just whack straight on the coals when we got there – foil baked sea bass with lemon, olives and rosemary it was then. The results were delicious – here’s how you do it …

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Plenty of Firsts in the Fjords – Part 2

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Following on from the previous week’s post, this is the second instalment of my look back at last summer’s trip to the Norwegian fjords.

The trip provided a number of angling ‘firsts’ for me starting with sea fish on the fly – a colourful wrasse from the shore, followed by a beautiful mackerel caught one blissful evening out on the boat.

A small spate river which, by chance, flowed into the fjord just a few miles down the road from our house would provide a few more new experiences over the course of the week.

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Plenty of Firsts in the Fjords – Part 1

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After a great trip to Finland with my good friend Andy and his family in 2017, we decided to visit Norway together for our 2018 summer holidays. We found a lovely house on the shores of a fjord (called Efjord) about three hours north of Stavanger – a fascinating trip travelling by road and ferry. Of course, plenty of fishing would be on the agenda and we hoped that some tasty sea fish could be caught to feed the troops.

Apart from on family holidays in my youth, I have not done much sea fishing and to be honest it has never really attracted me that much. Lowering a bait into fathomless depths or blindly casting towards the horizon has always seemed a bit of a shot in the dark and somewhat boring. However, this was all to change in the fertile, dramatic and beautiful saltwaters of the fjords.

The trip resulted in a number of angling ‘firsts’ for me, and it turned out that sea fishing could be just as exhilarating and rewarding as in my hitherto favoured freshwater haunts.

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