Coarse fish are spawning now and will continue to do so until about the middle of our rivers and lakes are busy places now.

I always think that the epithet 'coarse' is somewhat inappropriate as if down grading them from the upmarket salmon and  trout families but there are many beautiful species nevertheless although very few are worth eating except for a tasty dish of gudgeon fried in butter!

By July, millions or no doubt billions of inch long fry will be ranged along the Thames, shoaling in vast numbers close by the river bank in both directions and a walk along the towpath from Kingston to Canbury gardens will reveal them densely packed together.

Such huge numbers are a safeguard against a range of predators such as grebes, gulls, cormorants and common terns which dive on the surface-feeding shoals. Within the river, pike and perch exact a heavy toll too. One of the coarse fish is the delightful silvery lively sprat-like bleak that swims in shoals in the river and rises to take flies from the surface.

It is noted for having minute iridescent silver particles covering the scales and many years ago a Frenchman hit on the idea of scraping off the particles, mixing them with chemicals and glue and coating artificial glass pearls so that they resembled real pearls. An industry grew up and bleak were farmed in great numbers . It was estimated that the scales of eighteen thousand bleak were required to make just one pound weight of the pearlescent substance. The picture depicts a bleak