For a special family occasion we booked onto a fishing boat sailing from Barmouth, Viking II, skippered by John, the man who also runs the only lobster boat in the bay. It was a great day out, gentle swell, no rain and good visibility. We had the excitement of two dolphins and their fins breaking water about a mile out of harbour; I wished we had switched the engine off and just watched, but we had serious fish business ahead.
Ten of us fished away with multiple hooks, feathers, with squid and mackerel as bait, in all the hot spots. The water was at its warmest and the sky was cloudy so conditions were as good as they could be but in four hours, nothing big enough to eat. We caught nine different species and all but the mackerel were returned with tub gurnard the most spectacular (see note below).
Back on land I couldn’t help but think that George Monbiot is right and that the Irish Sea is empty apart from abundant jellyfish. Peckish from the fresh air we sauntered over to the chippy and on the menu, a glimmer of hope, ‘mini fish’. I asked what it was and the answer was a small piece of cod, priced at £1.60 as opposed to £3.25 for a full portion. Sitting on a bench overlooking the harbour I thought this was the right sort of downsizing.
Tub gurnard? Initially I described this as a red gurnard but Professor Ivor Rees, a regular contributor to this blog, suggests from the blue on the leading rays of the pectoral fins, that it is in fact a tub gurnard. Chelidonichthys lucernus = Trigla lucerna. So now you know! Many thanks Ivor.