I thought I'd taste test a pilchard to see what all the fuss was about...


The humble pilchard or sardine has to be the most effective, versatile and irresistible bait for most things that live in the deep blue. They’re dynamite burley and even better bait - they can be fished whole, halved, cubed, filleted and even butterflied. Pillies are deadly on almost any fish, from teeny-weeny bream to jumbo yellowfin, these oily little baitfish are packed with plenty of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and on average have around 80 calories each. So… I thought we’d better cook a couple up and see what all the fuss was about.


Because I don’t know the difference between a cauliflower and a colander, I’ll hand over to Sophie Dunwoodie for her best attempt at an easy, tasty pilchard lunch.



Sophie thinks they're on the nose.


Easy Peasy Pillies in Homemade Tomato Sauce


Serves 2


20 minutes from start to finish



-Two good pans

-A filleting knife


You’ll need:

2 x pilchards (eating quality) washed and filleted

Olive Oil

6 x cherry tomatoes washed and cut in half

1 x can of diced tomatoes with mixed herbs

½ fresh chilli (de-seeded)

1 small bunch of fresh parsley (chopped)

Salt and pepper

2 x slices of wholemeal Vienna bread toasted in the oven

1 x lemon (cut in wedges)





How to:

Preheat oven to 160 C.

Scale and fillet fish then rinse under cold water.

In a pan, add a tablespoon of oilive oil and toss in the halved cherry tomatoes, canned tomatoes, finely chopped chilli (de seeded),  chopped parsley, salt and pepper; let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Cut two thick slices of wholemeal Vienna bread, place in oven until crisp.

While the sauce is simmering, cut the pilchard fillets in half to remove all the pin bones, place in a hot pan with olive oil, squeeze a generous amount of fresh lemon juice and cook till crispy.

Add the pilchards to the rich tomato sauce and stir.

Spoon tomato sauce on wholemeal toast, serve with a drizzle of olive oil , wedge of lemon and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.





Sophie’s star rating was 7.5/10 – not bad for a basic baitfish brunch. 



Is there a fish you want me to attempt to catch? A location I should fish? A photographic challenge? You tell me. Either email fishfingers18@yahoo.com or leave a comment below.


Until next Wednesday,



© JackMurphy Fishing and Photography


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