Sardine fishing in Cornwall


Sam: My name's Sam Lambourn, I own this fishing boat, which is called The Lyonesse and we catch sardines.

I've been fishing for about 30 years, probably a bit more than that. Fishing is very much a way of life. I like the directness of catching food to be eaten. I want people to eat the fish that I catch, enjoy it and then come back next week and buy another one. Fishing for sardines, in my view, is all about quality. When we're fishing for sardines, we're fishing for the top end of the market, the highest quality.

This is The Lyonesse and it's designed solely for catching sardines. We've got, on this boat, sonar that enables us to find the fish and that's an electronic gadget that looks ahead of us and gives us a picture on a television screen inside that will show the shoal of fish as a red blob, generally speaking.

Fishing for Cornish sardines starts end of June, mid July. Sardines are very easily put off and spooked, we have to be quiet. When we actually set the net in the circle we have to turn all the lights off, except the navigation lights, so everything's done in the pitch black just to help. So we generally try to go about an hour before dusk and we have to be in by daylight really. At night, the sardines come up in the water, then we can catch them, and in the day they generally go down.

Having caught the fish, then we have to recover the net back onto the boat and concentrate all the fish down into one end of the night. Then we pump it up into these insulated bins here which will have ice in. When we bring fish in onto the side of the quay, we then put a little bit more ice on the fish and the processor comes and then collects them into a refrigerated lorry and they go off to a factory where they're processed. It'll be just 36 hours before it'll then get onto the counter in the Tesco store.

The whole emphasis, once we've caught the fish, is to preserve it in as a good a condition as we possibly can because when it comes over the side, it's absolutely brilliant, pristine. So we've got to get it cold as quickly as we can, avoid handling it as much as possible, to keep it in the best possible quality that we can.

A fresh sardine has got bright shiny eyes, shiny scales, really bright red gills. It doesn't look tired, it looks fresh. Most of our fresh fish goes to Tesco and I see Tesco because they come and have a look at the boat and the fish and they'll come on various fishing trips to see how we catch it, how we're looking after them.

I think the less you do to fish in terms of preparation and you just cook it as naturally, as simply as you can, the better it is. Cornish sardines, I think, they're sustainable, they accredited, I think they're a brilliant product and I think people should buy Cornish sardines.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Ways to shop

Look out for this basket to buy recipe ingredients.
Learn more  

Click here to shop  

Real Food Poll


Something went wrong Close popup