Common name: Pouting
Latin name: Trisopterus luscus
Record weight: A small inshore member of the cod family, the pouting is one of the most common fish around the British coast and can make up a large percentage of angler catches. Whilst most fish weigh under a pound, the boat caught record is a huge fish of 5lb 8oz and the shore best a creditable 4lb 9oz.
Distribution: Found throughout Northern Europe, extending to Southern Spain. Found in shallow water, often within a few metres of the shoreline. Very common in water down to 70m. In warmer climates often found in deeper water during the Summer when near shore temperatures will be uncomfortable.
Features: Shares the three dorsal fins and two central fins of other members of the cod family, along with a large barbel on the lower jaw. Has a much bronzer colour than other members of the cod family and looks a very handsome fish when viewed in it's natural environment. Also much deeper bodies than other members of the cod family, with older individuals being almost the size and shape of a dinner plate!
Diet: Pouting feed on locally abundant prey that they find on the surface of their preferred sandy shore-lines. The bulk of their diet is made up of shrimp, although small crabs, molluscs and tiny fish are also consumed when found. As any angler will tell you, pouting are extremely opportunistic feeders and will take just about anything edible that they find.
Spawning: Pouting are Spring spawners and can be found massing in depths between 50-70m in March and April. Huge shoals of fish numbering several thousand strong are found during spawning before the fish once again disperse into smaller groups. Each female is courted by several males that vie with one another to fertilise as many of the pelagic eggs as possible. As the female releases her eggs into the water column the male alongside her has the best chance of fertilising the eggs. The eggs rise towards the surface thanks to their high oil content which makes them less dense than the surrounding water. They drift on the current for around ten days before the tiny larvae hatch out.
Growth: The young fish grow rapidly in the rich coastal waters and reach a length of 30cm and sexual maturity at the end of their first year. Pouting are only a relatively short lived species, living for only 6-8 years. Despite this, the fish are able to spawn several times, and this, coupled with their small size, explains their abundance. The flesh of pouting is also of poor quality and so they are not targeted specifically by trawlers, although when caught they do go into making fish meal for animal feeds.