Grey Gurnard, Or Hard Heads (Trigla Gurnardus), are very common fish on some parts of the coast in certain seasons. In Scotland they are often called gowdies, girnats, and crooners, and the Irish name for them is knoud. As their name indicates, they are mainly grey in colour. There are very few places round the coast of Great Britain and Ireland where they are not found at times, often appearing on the coast for a month or two and then disappearing for the rest of the year. I remember Filey Bay being full of them for a few weeks in August, as many as a hundred being caught in an hour or two on one paternoster. Very large ones are found in the sea lochs of the west coast of Scotland. Once when engaged in this fishing I hooked a small flat fish, and was bringing it to the surface when I saw a grey gurnard following it and biting at its fins. Having unhooked the dab, I rebaited, began to lower my line, and before the lead reached the bottom caught a gurnard ; whether the same one or not, of course cannot be determined with certainty.
In the Bait chapter I have pointed out the uses of gurnard skin. Pieces of the fresh grey gurnard are in many places good bait for haddocks and other fish. As food I consider it very superior to the red gurnard, but a clever cook can do much with either of them. Their flesh certainly inclines to dryness. Among the best methods of cooking the grey gurnard is to remove the flesh from the bones, stew in stock, and serve à la maitre d'hôtel.
The Red Gurnard is by no means bad if stuffed, placed belly uppermost with some ham fat lying within it. The savour and moisture of the ham permeate the fish as baking proceeds.
There are one or two varieties of gurnard which are comparatively scarce in British waters. These are the Lanthorn (Trigla obscura) ; the Piper (Trigla lyra), which maybe known by its having a forked or divided nose, and being in colour a bright red ; and the Streaked Gurnard (Trigla lineata), which is curiously marked with fine red lines running from the back to the belly. It is a deep red colour.