A new study suggesting fish do feel pain has prompted fresh calls for angling to be banned.
But as animal rights campaigners hailed the experiment - based on heating up goldfish in a lab - as evidence of the 'barbaric cruelty' of the nation's most popular participant sport, fishermen cast off their argument.
'This research doesn't really demonstrate anything about angling as we don't fish with toasters,' pointed out Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust.
Experts have long disagreed over whether fish experience a sensation of pain in unpleasant situations or merely display a reflex reaction.
Andrew Tyler, director of animal rights group Animal Aid, said: 'Fish are probably the most abused group of animals in our culture. Fishing is seen as a poetic, meditative practice, but it's barbaric, cruel and should be banned. How much more research do they need?'