Friday, 8 January 2016

UK National Fish Vote

Why have a national fish?

Other countries have national fish with Japan having the Koi carp and South Africa has the Galjoen. The UK already has a national bird with the robin topping the list last year (over 200,000 people voted) We have a plethora of amazing species to be found around our coastline and in freshwater habitats but often get overlooked by other species. This vote is a celebration of all things fish and raising awareness for species and issues that face them.

Who can vote?

Anyone! its free and all you need to do its put your email down as verification (all information is kept private and not shared with anyone) Although it has a major interest to anglers theres no reason why anyone else with a interest in fish can't vote from scuba divers, conservationists, aquarists or fish and chip enthusiasts. 

As well as the main vote theres some additional questions which are optional to get some info on current subjects like what are the biggest threats to fish, should burbot be reintroduced and should a trust be set up for freshwater fish conservation?

Male minnow in breeding colours

When is the voting?

Voting starts on the 23rd of January and will continue until the 27th February when the top ten will be announced and from those another month of voting will go on until the poll ends on the 26th March and the results will be added up. You won't need to vote again if you have already voted for the first stage.

23rd Jan - 26th March - From the 40 species the top ten will be decided
26th March - May (TBC exact date) - From the top ten the national fish will be decided

Look out for mentions in magazines such as Diver, BBC Wildlife, Angling Times, Anglers Mail and Planet Sea Fishing.

What to think about when voting

For me theres three ways you can look at when deciding which species to vote for

Which species would benefit from being the national fish? - Some fish included on the list have no angling value but are still important additions to british fauna from the huge Basking Shark that visits much of the west coast in the summer to the Vendace the rarest freshwater fish in the UK. Others for example are susceptible to over fishing like sea bass and salmon so being voted national fish brings them out into the attention of the public.

Favourite fish - Whether you enjoy a bit of haddock and chips or like catching gudgeon down the local canal you'll likely have a favourite fish which will influence your vote.

Typically British fish - Think about which species you would want to represent the UK and what that species reflects for example sticklebacks are small and the males even have the breeding colours red, white and blue like the union jack. Some species can be found all over the UK like brown trout found in streams in cornwall to lochs in shetland and everywhere in between.

Make a 1 minute 'fish plea' film

If you would like to share your thoughts and opinions on why a single species should win you can film yourself championing a species in video. All it needs to be is under a minute with your name and why this species should be crowned national fish. It can be filmed from a phone or compact camera as long as you can hear and see whats being said just keep it clean. see our email below to send it to and we'll add it to our youtube channel.

Part of the project is to get as many people involved as possible so if your a organisation or trust who like to show your support you can either get in touch and we'll add you as a general supporter or if theres a particularly species you'd like to back we can add you as a fish champion and add links to your trust on the website so far groups like the shark trust, sustainable eel group, institute of fisheries management and wildscreen have shown support.

The List

Compiled by a group of experts from top anglers to fishery scientists this list reflects a wide range of fish species to choose from. We have over 400 species of fish from sea and freshwater in the UK so would be impractical to name all of them so have gone for the most popular, iconic and embody the sprit of the UK. In theory it could end up with two national fish with the overall winner say Rudd and the highest sea fish say Plaice. However if the fish that wins overall can enter both fresh and salt water then it would just be the one national fish like salmon, sea bass or european eel.

Freshwater                                                    Sea
Tench                                                           Basking Shark
Roach                                                           Cod
Rudd                                                             Lesser spotted dogfish
Barbel                                                           Flounder
Chub                                                             Sea bass
Bullhead                                                       Long-Snouted Seahorse
Grayling                                                       Haddock
Atlantic Salmon                                           Conger eel
Brown Trout                                                Common skate
European Eel                                               Mackerel
Vendace                                                       Pollock
Carp                                                             Thick lipped mullet
Three spined stickleback                             Black bream
Perch                                                            Ballan wrasse
Pike                                                              Tompot Blenny
Minnow                                                       Garfish
Gudgeon                                                      Plaice
Crucian                                                        John Dory
Common Bream                                          Thornback ray
Dace                                                             Blue shark

Why choose those species?

I've excluded some recent arrivals and non natives though carp are technically classed as a non native they have been in the UK for nearly 600 years and most coarse fish have been introduced at one point or another after the last ice age meaning if you want to be precise the only truly native fish are the sea species and anadromous species like salmon and trout.

The idea was to have a broad selection of species from tiny bullheads and blennies to pike and basking sharks. Each species has its own merits and all are deserving of our attention, respect and help.

To vote follow this link

Jack diving with pike 
About Jack

Jack is a professional wildlife photographer and filmmaker specialising in all things underwater particularly freshwater fish.  He under went a project last year to film every species of freshwater fish in Britain (so far 43 out of the 54) He regularly works for TV and magazines both for angling and wildlife shows such as Springwatch, Countryfile & Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing.

Email us at :
Twitter: @Riverfishuk
Facebook: UK National Fish Vote


Angling Times

BBC Wildlife

Anglers Mail

Friday, 13 November 2015

Angling on the BBC

Sorry for the quietness of late apart from a piking session earlier in the year I've barely wet a line due to being busy with filming (can't moan!) I'm hoping to get a fly fishing session in before christmas and small river chub fishing which has to be among my favourite angling techniques.

16lb Pike from Grantham Canal

Now I'm sure a few of you would of seen the recent BBC Angling Series 'Earth's Wildest Waters: The Big Fish' Its great to see angling back on the BBC for a full series the last one I remember is The Accidental Angler which was a great mini series.

Those of you used to Matt Hayes stuff on Discovery Shed or Quest will be in for a shock as this show is less heavy on the rigs and more about the people behind the rod and rightly so as the sort of shows more hardcore anglers like would never take off on terrestrial TV. Its got a bake off style to it and thats no accident as its the same producer! I think it juggles the mixture of actual angling and competition element quite well and have to say I did rather enjoy the series (despite not being picked as a cameraman!) 

Matt, Me & George

Matt comes across knowledgeable if a little under used but at the end of the day the show is about the contestants. I've had the pleasure of working with Matt and he's a genuine and friendly chap.

Lets hope its the start of something and see a few more fishing shows on the BBC though a UK one would be great to see. I don't think we'll ever see anything like A Passion for Angling again but in a way sometimes its best to leave things alone especially when you think how much angling and the UK's rivers have changed since it aired in the early 90's.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Grayling fishing on the Derwent

 River Derwent, Derbyshire

The Derwent is a stunning river with slow deeper stretches holding coarse fish like barbel and chub to its faster clearer paces home to hungry brown trout and my target species the lady of the stream aka the grayling. The river season was fast approaching to a end so wanted to leave it on a high by visiting a river I've never fished before.

 Classic grayling run shallow, clear and weedy

Its by chance that I even ended up fishing on this piece of river its privately run and no day tickets are issued but I had been in touch with the club to film the fish and plentiful amount of wildlife in the area. Kingfishers, dippers and goosander all put in a appearance on the day. I was then offered the chance for a guest ticket and quickly took them up on it!

Trying out the centerpin was great fun 

I recently had been given a centerpin as a wedding present (not my wedding!) and was having great fun discovering how to us it and made trotting on the river a doddle, though my casting has much to be desired. The weather was superb bright sunshine and no wind made it almost feel like summer!

Traveling light

I'm not a tackle tart and happy to use second/ well used gear as long as it catches fish so I won't be going into to much detail on what reel/rod I'm using on these blogs however the end gear I will. I opted for a size 18 barbed hook, 4g loafer float with the weights spread up the line big ssg at the top and getting smaller sizes below so it shows well in the current with a 4lb main line straight though to the reel. This is really my kind of fishing which is light gear moving from swim to swim finding the fish and in some cases spotting them.

First capture a greedy brown trout 

The first fish of the day was a brown trout and on this light gear gave some great sport, although theres more skill in fly fishing for them I don't see why we shouldn't target them on bait with light tactics they put up a great scrap. However it wasn't what I wanted to slipped him back.

a PB brown trout around 3lb + 

About 14 trout followed most over 2lb and put a good bend in my float rod all afternoon, putting on the polarises I could spot some monsters lurking in the gloom some of which must be pushing 6lb. I chucked my maggots towards moby dick but his little cousin got int first and took the bait which still turned out to be a PB for me.

Roger into another Derwent brownie

Roger Walker was my host and incredibly helpful with which spots to try and how to go at the fish. He caught quite a few trout also.

My first grayling in over 8 years 

While trotting the float down it bobed under and I hit into it, not pulling as dogged as the trout I thought it was a dace but sure enough it was my intended quarry the grayling! I've never been a angler obsessed with size of fish (its why I never carry scales with me) just looking at the fin perfect colours and textures of the fish is what its all about for me. That being said...

 Showing off its gorgeous dorsal fin

I hooked this whopper not long after and was rather chuffed with myself! I thought it was a trout for a while then saw the huge dorsal fin and panicked to get the net!

 Another PB 1lb 12oz 

Not a monster by national standards but a good size for the Derwent and I was really pleased with it also.

The colours of these fish are phenomenal 

Catching the fish reminded me of filming them not to far away

Monday, 16 February 2015

Zander with Matt Hayes

Today saw me wrapping up the last shoot for my Beneath the water line short film which is spilt into two parts the first part is myself presenting and roving around the country talking to various groups and individuals interested in freshwater fish a often over looked group of wildlife in the UK. The plight of eels, getting more attention for fish from nature reserves/NGOs, connecting children with wildlife and other stories including invasive species which brought me to the midlands fishing for Zander with Matt Hayes. The second part is getting footage of all 54 freshwater fish species in the UK (42 so far!)

I've watched Matts angling programmes since I started fishing in the early noughties and was fantastic to meet and wet a line with him. This was the last shoot of my film talking about non native fish namely Zander and if they are a problem or not which is a hot topic in angling. The difficult thing with invasive's in waterways is they are very hard to remove once established but should we remove zander? this was one of the questions I put to Matt.

As well as me filming my film, BBC Inside Out East Midlands came along to film some of the fishing with Matt as they are covering my work behind the scenes which will be on BBC later this year. On the whole the shoot went really well with a few fish bagged and despite being a bit wet the weather wasn't to bad. The film is now off to the edit room and will be released in April this Year.

Big thanks to Chris Lowe who's local knowledge was invaluable in finding the fish which we caught on the second cast! I also need to thank him for the pictures as I was to busy in front of the camera to take any!

These smaller Zander have superb colouration and average out at a few pounds in weight. Filming fishing as Matt well knows can be very frustrating so I was so relieved when the first Zander went into the net.

                                 Matt, Myself and upcoming cameraman George Howard

Zander are very difficult to film underwater due to them either living in murky water or deep down which is one of the main reasons I opted to fish for them to show on camera rather then underwater shots however I did manage some underwater work at Rutland Water last year.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Angling Blog

I've been debating for quite a while whether or not to do a angling blog as I just don't get the time to fish often anymore however I decided to write one anyway!

This blog will be a mixture of photography, wildlife, weird and wonderful fish and of course the odd bit of angling!

My underwater images feature regularly in Anglers Mail mostly in the rig diagrams.

I'm a big fan of catching all manner of species from gudgeon to pike and although I mainly coarse fish I'm also a keen fly and sea angler so expect a variety of fishing and species.

Heres some of my favourite captures of last year

 While filming for my 'Beneath the waterline' film I took part in the Anglers Paradise Lure Weekend which I highly recommend great fun catching a range of species and you can sample some of zygs magic wine! (not for the faint hearted!) 

 The highlight was this monster perch it wasn't weighed but was pushing 4lb by my guess the image doesn't do it justice as the girth on this beauty was huge!

As well as monster perch a Tiger Trout came to one of my lures (a hybrid between a brown trout and brook trout) they fight like stink and not found in many fisheries now.

I did which has to be my most enjoyable job to date which was being a cameraman on the second series of 'Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing' which took me all over the country filming John Bailey and Young Peter (James Buckley) every now and then I got the chance to wet a line and while in France caught this pumpkinseed a American invasive species.

Devon provided me with my biggest eel while float fishing for a couple hours such fantastic fish.

Filming some scenics over a carp lake in France 

Even though I'm in my mid twenties I still get the same buzz when I was a kid and catching my first zander at rutland water really brought it back for me. 

 As i mentioned above its not all about bit fish and I was quite happy catching gudgeon on my local river.

To finish the blog off Here's some of my underwater footage which you can expect more of in coming blogs looking at the fish and how the interact with baits.