Fish and Smoke Shed, Colyton, EX24 6LS

January 2023

I thought I would start the year with 'seasonality'. We have all grown up expecting to catch Mackerel in the middle of summer and barbarqueing them on the beach – and this is still one of the greatest seasonal treats ( weather permitting ).

But, what of the rest of the fish species around our coasts and the other 3 seasons? I'll introduce more as we go through the year.

Right now here in the south-west in the middle of January we are seeing a short run of herrings and sprats – sadly not the most popular fish but customers are nostalgic about some fish and these two certainly make people smile. I like to make the most of what we buy and after brining I cold smoked the herring to make kippers and hot smoked the sprats – both fabulous.

We are also seeing flounder – a more inshore flat fish which is nice and thick now - and whiting which are a great substitute for the normally more expensive white fish – we have had some absolute thumpers in recently.

Squid is still at it's peak currently with plenty being landed and when the weather is calm enough for the small boats to fish they catch them on rod and line jigging lures.

Haddock is also plentiful caught by the netter boats off the south-west of Cornwall in the Celtic sea.

In my opinion you cannot beat a lovely thick end fillet of haddock pan fried in butter. And if our friends 'up north' always have Haddock instead of Cod for fish and chips then what better stamp of approval do you need.

Lemon Sole and Brill start to come on better soon but with species coming into season you always get some that decline and the main one now is Plaice. It is spawning now and once done the fish loses condition quickly and has very little to offer until it fattens up again into late spring.

From the end of January Sea Bass are on a catch ban for 2 months to allow them to spawn to protect the fish stocks – if you see Bass on a counter after early Feb then it will be farmed Bass until 1st April.

Of course you can get most fish species all year round these days but the volumes vary and therefore prices with the seasons and abundance of species.