Wednesday, 2 November 2011

100 Species of fish from British Waters - The Rules!

A number of people have asked me what the rules are behind this challenge! I am sure some of my non fishing friends see it as an organised event rather than as a personal challenge. I thought it might be fun to put down my thoughts and and come up with a draft set of rules for anyone embarking on this mad challenge.

Use of a Net?

In Discovery Channel's Rod Race Matt Hayes and Mick Brown included Stone Loach and Bullheads in their species count caught with their trusty friend, the child's fishing net. The logic behind this was that these mini species were almost impossible to catch on Rod and Line.

In my view if a fish isn't caught on rod and line by fair angling it doesn't count. I suspect most anglers would be in agreement on this one?


Matt Hayes and Mick Brown also counted common, mirror, koi and ghost carp as distinct species. In reality these have all been selectively bred from the original fully scaled wild carp. Biologically they are all King Carp. Likewise Golden Tench, Golden Rudd, Golden and Blue Orfe have been selectively bred for the ornamental market.

Some trout fisheries offer the opportunity to catch Blue and Golden Trout, which are colour variants of the Rainbow Trout.

 It is true that some of these variants behave differently from their wild coloured parents. Golden Trout, for example, are very wary, this might be because they are more vulnerable to predators being brightly coloured, or it could be that being visible more anglers target them? I have enjoyed targeting and catching most of these variants over the last couple of years but do they count?  In my view to count Tench and Golden Tench as two species would be wrong, however I would feel comfortable as counting a Golden Tench as a Tench if I hadn't caught one. I suspect that a majority but not all anglers would agree with me. Despite in my view these not counting I still intend to target an Ide and Golden (Rainbow) Trout to complete my "variants" collection.


Hybrids are produced where two species interbreed, this usually occurs in freshwater where both parent species share the same spawning grounds.

I enjoyed a whole summer fishing for massive Roach/Rudd hybrids on Hollowell reservoir in Northamptonshire, catching fish to 4lb. They are a beautiful quarry, fighting harder than either of their parents, likewise the few large Roach/Bream Hybrids I have caught have also fought harder than their parents.

Trout and Char species can also be deliberately crossed to produce Tiger (Brown x Brook Char) and Cheetah Trout (Rainbow x Brook Char). The Tiger Trout is rarely stocked these days and the Cheetah has passed into the history books. The appallingly named F1 is a selectively bred cross between the King and Crucian Carp.

I know that Dave Park did not count hybrids towards his tally of 100 species. I vaguely recall Mike Thrussell (and I apologise to him if my memory falls me) stating that he includes hybrids within his species tally. Who is right? I have sided with Dave Park and chosen to exclude hybrids.  Incidentally Mike Thrussell had caught 103 species at the last count (so by either measure, Mike has exceeded 100 species). I suspect anglers would be divided on this one and that it is a personal choice as to include or exclude hybrids.

British Rod Caught Record List

The vast majority of fish species that can be caught in British Waters appear on the listings produced by the British Records (Rod Caught) Fish Committee. Ireland have their own record listings.

However some fish list are thought to now be extinct in Britain, for example Walleye and Burbot. Some species are still to be caught, most years a new saltwater species is added to the list, certainly if I caught a new species from British waters I would count it!

Some species are protected and the lists have been closed, for example Powan. To discourage illegal imports distorting the record lists, records for some coarse species have also been closed, for example grass carp and wels catfish.

Likewise new records for alien species established in British Waters will not be accepted. These would include the Motherless Minnow (or sunbleak) and the Topmouthed Gudgeon.

British Waters

Wikipedia states "Great Britain refers to England, Scotland and Wales in combination, and therefore also includes a number of outlying islands such as the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, the Isles of Scilly, the Hebrides, and the island groups of Orkney and Shetland. It does not include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands which are not part of the United Kingdom, instead being self-governing dependent territories of that state with their own legislative and taxation systems."

Although I have not fished in Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands I would have no qualms in counting any species landed in these waters despite these not being politically part of Great Britain or indeed the United Kingdom. Mike Thrussell counts species landed in Irish waters and if it is good enough for him it is good enough for me.

Although it is true that when wrecking from many of the South Coast ports that you could be fishing closer to France than England, as long as I sail from and return to a British port the same day I am happy to include any species resulting from the trip.

So here are a set of proposed rules for would be species hunters:

Rule 1 - Fish must be caught on Rod and Line by fair angling.
Rule 2 - Selectively bred colour and scale variants do not count as separate species.
Rule 3 - Hybrids do not count (not sure about this one)
Rule 4 - The species should appear on the BRFC listings. However established alien species in freshwater or "new to Britain" saltwater species can be counted.
Rule 5 - British Waters include English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish inland waters and surrounding seas
Rule 6 - Saltwater boat fishing trips should leave and return to a British Port on the same day

Unfortunately family and work commitments combined with strong winds at the weekends mean that I appear to be stuck on 98 species until next year when I hope to finally reach my target of 100 species from British Waters in three years. However with the 98 species I have caught during the first two years of this challenge and another two species I had caught earlier in my fishing career (Blue Shark and Stone Loach) I have caught a total of 100 species from British Waters.  To date only Dave Park and Mike Thrussell have stated that they have caught 100 species from British (and Irish) waters, so that makes me the third to declare that they have achieved this (although I am sure others have achieved this and chosen to remain anonymous).