Coarse fishing is a term used in the United Kingdom and Ireland for angling for coarse fish. Coarse fish are freshwater fish that are distinguished from game fish. Freshwater game fish are all salmonids – most particularly salmon, trout and char – so generally coarse fish are freshwater fish that are not salmonids. There is disagreement over whether grayling should be classified as a game fish or a coarse fish. Fly fishing is the technique usually used for freshwater game fishing, while other angling techniques are usually used for coarse fishing. The sport of coarse fishing and the techniques it uses are particularly popular in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, and as well as in some former British Commonwealth countries and among British expatriates.
The distinction between coarse fish and game fish has no taxonomic basis. It originated in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. Prior to that time, recreational fishing was a sport of the gentry, who angled for salmon and trout and called them game fish. There was a view that other fish did not make as good eating, and they were disdained as coarse fish. Coarse fish have scales that are generally larger than the scales of game fish, and they tend to inhabit warmer and stiller waters.