Is it true that fish behave differently when there's a thunderstorm?
Absolutely, particularly if the water temperature is high. Like us, fish require oxygen to survive. They get this oxygen from the water, which is absorbed across the gill filaments.
The amount of oxygen a body of water can hold fluctuates depending on water temperature and air pressure. The higher the air pressure, the greater a body of water’s capacity to hold on to its dissolved oxygen. A simple analogy is to think of air pressure as a weight. The greater the weight squashing down on a body of water (high pressure), the harder it is for oxygen to escape. A sudden drop in pressure, such as that produced by a thunderstorm, reduces a body of water’s capacity to hold on to its oxygen, the weight is reduced and oxygen escapes.
Distress in a thunderstorm
If fish during thunderstorms are showing signs of distress in your pond or lake, try to aerate the water and get in touch with your local environment agency fisheries team as soon as possible.
Fishermen can also be affected by thunderstorms, so at the first sign of thunder and lightning put the carbon rods away and either head home or cease fishing until the storm has passed.
Trout with watercress, capers and pancetta
This trout recipe a great dish to serve at any time of year, but it’s ideal for a light summer lunch or a satisfying late autumn starter
As with most recipes, the key to its success is in early preparation — all the components can be made well in advance of the meal, and then quickly and easily brought together at the last minute. The trout itself is not to be cooked through. Instead, it should remain slightly rare in the middle, with a light and crispy finish to the skin. The subtle earthy trout is complemented beautifully by the crunchy, salty ham, and balanced by the rich wine emulsion.
This trout recipe is by Alan Haughie, head chef at The Greyhound in Stockbridge, Hampshire. It serves four as a starter or two for a light lunch. Preparation time is about 30 minutes.
- 1 very fresh brown or rainbow trout, roughly 1lb, scaled, filleted and pin-boned
- 8 strips of pancetta
- Black pepper
- 75ml ruby port
- 75ml Madeira
- 1tsp unsalted butter
- Fine sea salt to taste
- 50ml rapeseed oil
- 3 sprigs of thyme, half a crushed clove of garlic
- 1 large shallot, very finely diced
- 1tsp sherry vinegar
- Juice of one orange
- 1tbsp washed baby capers
- 1 vine tomato, peeled, de-seeded and finely diced
- 1 bunch of washed watercress in small sprigs
- Begin by preparing the trout; divide each fillet into two equal portions, checking that all the fine pin bones have been removed. Score the skin of the fish lightly with a very sharp knife, about 5mm apart, then pat dry using a paper towel or a new J-cloth. This will ensure a crispy finish to the skin.
- Next, lay the sliced pancetta flat on a baking sheet lined with silicon paper. Season the slices well with freshly ground black pepper, top with another sheet of silicon paper and another baking tray to weigh it down, then place in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 12 minutes, or until the pancetta is golden brown, before transferring to a wire cooling rack until serving. Don’t worry if it is not completely crisp at this point — it will become more so as it cools.
- To make the wine emulsion, combine the port and Madeira in a small, heavy-based saucepan, and reduce to approximately 25ml of syrupy liquid, before whisking in the butter, and then seasoning to taste with a pinch of salt. This can be done well in advance of serving, but the emulsion must be kept covered and slightly warm or it may split.
To assemble the dish
- Heat the rapeseed oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan until almost smoking. Lightly season the trout portions and then place them skin-side-down in the hot oil with the crushed garlic and thyme, allowing approximately 45 seconds of cooking time for every centimetre of thickness — i.e. one-and-a-half minutes for a 2cm thick fillet — before carefully turning the fish using a metal slice or spatula, and cooking for a further 30 seconds on the flesh side.
- Add the diced shallot and sweat it for a few seconds before adding the sherry vinegar and orange juice, then baste the fish with the liquor that has formed in the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for two to three minutes while you prepare the garnish.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the capers, diced tomato and watercress, a generous spoonful of the cooking liquor, and half of the pancetta crisps, lightly crushed, and a touch of salt and pepper.
- Divide two-thirds of the salad into the centre of the serving plates, top with the warmed trout, then divide the remaining salad on top of the fish. Top each of the fish and salad portions with a slice of pancetta, then dress with a little of the wine emulsion and drizzle over the remaining juices from the pan. Serve the dish to table immediately.