Catch and release of uncommon Guernsey grey gurnard

May 19th, 2011 by Richard Lord

Richard Seager with his party of recreational fishermen on Out the Blue landed a grey gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus, on the afternoon of 19 May 2011.

This species is uncommon in Guernsey waters but abundant elsewhere in northern European waters.

An ICES report states that grey gurnard “is by far the most common gurnard in the North Sea, and one of the main demersal species.”  It is also the most common of the gurnard species off the coast of Wales.

“This species is most common living on sandy bottoms, but also on mud, shell and rocky bottoms.”

They have also been observed swimming well off the bottom using their large pectoral fins to glide through the water.

Gurnards are known for the sounds they can make possibly for reproductive or territorial purposes.  The grey gurnard is no exception.  It can be vocal.

Grey gurnard are regularly taken as by-catch on the trawling grounds of the North Sea.  Although they are of low commercial value, and many are discarded, the meat is of good quality, and Dutch fish markets and restaurants sell them.

A grey gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus, from a Dutch fish market. This fish weighed 326 grams and had a total length of 341 mm. (click image to expand -photographed 14 April 1992 - ©RLLord)

In Guernsey waters the red gurnard, Aspitrigla cuculus, is the most common gurnard, followed by the streaked gurnard, Trigloporus lastovisa, and the tub gurnard, Trigla lucerna.  Grey gurnard are rarely recorded.

Len Le Page‘s angling records show that all record grey gurnard from Bailiwick of Guernsey waters were caught in July or August on Godine Bank south of Sark.

The first Bailiwick of Guernsey angling record for the grey gurnard was on 17 July 1982.  The fish weighed 131 grams. This record was eclipsed just over one week later on the 24 July 1982 with a fish weighing 191 grams.  On 8 August 1982 the angling record went up to 266 grams, followed by a fish of 273 grams on 13 August 1983, a fish of 445 grams on 15 July 1989, and a fish of 600 grams on 24 July 1999.

Richard Seager's grey gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus, caught on Godine Bank on 19 May 2011 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Richard Seager’s fish was identified by the lateral line scales and the shortness of the pectoral fins which didn’t reach the origin of the anal fin.  There was also a dark red mark on the first dorsal fin membranes.

Richard Seager prior to releasing the grey gurnard that was caught on Out the Blue (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

After Richard Seager identified the fish he called Len Le Page to find out the Bailiwick angling record.  He judged that the grey gurnard did not weigh in excess of 600 grams so he decided to release the fish.

Richard Seager released the grey gurnard away from the prying eyes of nearby observant gulls (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

 

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