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TITLE
Fishing for sellags in Caithness
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_15
PLACENAME
Canisbay
DISTRICT
Northern Caithness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS: Canisbay
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
unknown
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
2770
KEYWORDS
crofting
crofters
crofter
croft
crofts
cuddins
sellag
pocks
audio

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Caithness crofters with access to the sea made good use of its resources. Seaweed was used as fertiliser and fish provided a rich source of nutritious food. The most common inshore fish was the cuddin, a member of the cod family known by a great variety of local names. In Orkney they were called cuithes. The most common modern English name is coley. Cuddins were also known by different names according to their age. Small cuddins, a few inches long, were called sellags, and were abundant close inshore in the late summer and autumn. In this audio extract, a Canisbay crofter recalls fishing for sellags.

'At's another thing we used to do in e winter time wis go, go till e sellags. Don't suppose ye've heard much about sellag - that's a small fish. They come in in e back end, what we call the back end o October - all aroon - an ye get a big net, it's a ring an a net, an ye'd to go doon till the pier an somebody threw in bits o potatoes or somethin, an what not, an ye fished, och ye'd get them oot by the pailful, this sellags. An at wis taken home - ye'd take maybe a, two pailfuls o em home - they were very small - an ye took them home at night an ye gutted them. An put them on a long bit o wire an ye hang them up til they're dry, in the milk-hoose, an at wis, ye made at, ye used to have at for your dinner sometimes - sometimes, no much - but ye hid sometimes an when they're fresh ye fried them.

Ye'd to catch is sellags with a, is net, an it'd got to be dark. It wis no use if it wis light cos they seen the pock, an then they, an they seen the ring an the net an at wis it. Ah remember is night - Ah don't remember, yes, it wis a dark night, an is guy wis there a lot, he went doon, in fact there were far too many on the slip, the pier, an is guy walked on, pock, the lot, he walked right off the pier, right into, right into the watter. Pock, the lot! Of course the watter wisnae deep but he'd to be fished oot. They got the sellag pock first an they fished him oot. He held the end an they got him back up till e pier. Ah remember at happenin. But of course the watter wisnae, it wisnae dangerous but Ah mean, it wis that deep an at wis him, he wis finished, at wis his night's fishing over, home. He never even got started'

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Fishing for sellags in Caithness

CAITHNESS: Canisbay

1980s

crofting; crofters; crofter; croft; crofts; cuddins; sellag; pocks; audio

Highland Libraries

Caithness Recordings: Fishing

Caithness crofters with access to the sea made good use of its resources. Seaweed was used as fertiliser and fish provided a rich source of nutritious food. The most common inshore fish was the cuddin, a member of the cod family known by a great variety of local names. In Orkney they were called cuithes. The most common modern English name is coley. Cuddins were also known by different names according to their age. Small cuddins, a few inches long, were called sellags, and were abundant close inshore in the late summer and autumn. In this audio extract, a Canisbay crofter recalls fishing for sellags.<br /> <br /> 'At's another thing we used to do in e winter time wis go, go till e sellags. Don't suppose ye've heard much about sellag - that's a small fish. They come in in e back end, what we call the back end o October - all aroon - an ye get a big net, it's a ring an a net, an ye'd to go doon till the pier an somebody threw in bits o potatoes or somethin, an what not, an ye fished, och ye'd get them oot by the pailful, this sellags. An at wis taken home - ye'd take maybe a, two pailfuls o em home - they were very small - an ye took them home at night an ye gutted them. An put them on a long bit o wire an ye hang them up til they're dry, in the milk-hoose, an at wis, ye made at, ye used to have at for your dinner sometimes - sometimes, no much - but ye hid sometimes an when they're fresh ye fried them. <br /> <br /> Ye'd to catch is sellags with a, is net, an it'd got to be dark. It wis no use if it wis light cos they seen the pock, an then they, an they seen the ring an the net an at wis it. Ah remember is night - Ah don't remember, yes, it wis a dark night, an is guy wis there a lot, he went doon, in fact there were far too many on the slip, the pier, an is guy walked on, pock, the lot, he walked right off the pier, right into, right into the watter. Pock, the lot! Of course the watter wisnae deep but he'd to be fished oot. They got the sellag pock first an they fished him oot. He held the end an they got him back up till e pier. Ah remember at happenin. But of course the watter wisnae, it wisnae dangerous but Ah mean, it wis that deep an at wis him, he wis finished, at wis his night's fishing over, home. He never even got started'