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TITLE
Fishing Methods used in Caithness (7)
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_35
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Alec Thomson
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
2793
KEYWORDS
audios
fishing industry
fishing
fishing boats
fishing nets
fishermen
fish

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Alec Thomson was a Thurso fishermen. In this audio extract he talks about fishing off Orkney and the different types of fishing.

'But the Orkney shore was famous for fish too, boy, if ye, if ye know yer way around, ye know? Halibut - it's great country for halibut, lovely fish ye get off it. Right down intil e west o e Firth ere an out towards, an out towards e Suleskerry. The Suleskerry's a - at's e west part o Orkney, Suleskerry, farthest island west is - it's about 38 mile fae Holborn Head. An there's a, there's good fishing banks on it, ye know? About four or five mile in e inside o Suleskerry there's grand fishin banks on it. Ye get a lot o halibut down there too.

But I had a shot o that sma'line fishing, that, that sma'line fishing is jist haddock fishing, ye know? Ye've just small hooks, ye see, an ye shot in e shore, just near e shore for haddocks, ye know? [?] But e line fishing that was e cod, ye see, an when e cod was in their prime, say in e month o January, an February, this month noo, the cod was in their prime, an ye get more for e roes sometimes than fit ye get for e cod. It's e roe for e value. Cod roes is valuable. An then, when the cod roes, when the roes - ye see, when e rows is in e cod, the cod came in from the deep sae an they're intae shallow water til spawn the roes an they span on e sands. Clean bottom. Ye see, they flicker it all in e sand like at ye see?

An wi ling fishin, that's after e cod fishing, e ling fishing starts, in e month o April. An when they let the ling, when ye get e ling on e lines, the pock at's inside [the fish's swim bladder] it comes up his throat, ye know, an it floats e fish til e surface, an e whole line would be floatan away in e distance like at. An ye'd be hallin e line in, an e lings floatan up too. Oh, it was e greatest cerry-on ever ye've seen. My, a lovely fish, e ling, boy. But they're no - they don't catch e same price in e market as e cod but when e ling is salted doon an cured, they're e best fish o the whole lot.

The simplest kind was line fishing, using long lines with baited hooks to catch cod, ling, haddock and other white fish, and flatfish such as the turbot and halibut. There were two basic types of line fishing - sma'lines used inshore for smaller white fish, and the great lines used in deeper water for larger fish. Lines were often extremely long. The fathom was used as a measure of length, officially equal to six feet but usually the arm span of the fisherman making up the line. Line fishing was very labour intensive and could involve the whole family, with women and children working to gather bait and prepare the gear on shore before the fisherman even put to sea. Herring was often used as bait but in some villages it was customary to gather mussels for this purpose.

In the 1920s seine-net fishing was introduced in the Moray Firth and became the standard method of catching white fish and flatfish along the east coast of Scotland. Wick acquired a large seine-net fleet, with a smaller fleet operating from Thurso. The technique involved shooting and hauling a long net to enclose fish in the water. An important part of the equipment was the dahn or dan-buoy, a pole that floated vertically to indicate the position of one end of the net or, in line fishing, the position of the furthest end of the line.

Fishermen used landmarks such as headlands or prominent buildings to establish their position at sea, essential for locating the best fishing grounds or banks. These marks were also called meezes. Fishermen had their favourite grounds and usually gave them names.

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Fishing Methods used in Caithness (7)

CAITHNESS

1980s

audios; fishing industry; fishing; fishing boats; fishing nets; fishermen; fish

Highland Libraries

Caithness Recordings: Fishing

Alec Thomson was a Thurso fishermen. In this audio extract he talks about fishing off Orkney and the different types of fishing. <br /> <br /> 'But the Orkney shore was famous for fish too, boy, if ye, if ye know yer way around, ye know? Halibut - it's great country for halibut, lovely fish ye get off it. Right down intil e west o e Firth ere an out towards, an out towards e Suleskerry. The Suleskerry's a - at's e west part o Orkney, Suleskerry, farthest island west is - it's about 38 mile fae Holborn Head. An there's a, there's good fishing banks on it, ye know? About four or five mile in e inside o Suleskerry there's grand fishin banks on it. Ye get a lot o halibut down there too.<br /> <br /> But I had a shot o that sma'line fishing, that, that sma'line fishing is jist haddock fishing, ye know? Ye've just small hooks, ye see, an ye shot in e shore, just near e shore for haddocks, ye know? [?] But e line fishing that was e cod, ye see, an when e cod was in their prime, say in e month o January, an February, this month noo, the cod was in their prime, an ye get more for e roes sometimes than fit ye get for e cod. It's e roe for e value. Cod roes is valuable. An then, when the cod roes, when the roes - ye see, when e rows is in e cod, the cod came in from the deep sae an they're intae shallow water til spawn the roes an they span on e sands. Clean bottom. Ye see, they flicker it all in e sand like at ye see?<br /> <br /> An wi ling fishin, that's after e cod fishing, e ling fishing starts, in e month o April. An when they let the ling, when ye get e ling on e lines, the pock at's inside [the fish's swim bladder] it comes up his throat, ye know, an it floats e fish til e surface, an e whole line would be floatan away in e distance like at. An ye'd be hallin e line in, an e lings floatan up too. Oh, it was e greatest cerry-on ever ye've seen. My, a lovely fish, e ling, boy. But they're no - they don't catch e same price in e market as e cod but when e ling is salted doon an cured, they're e best fish o the whole lot. <br /> <br /> The simplest kind was line fishing, using long lines with baited hooks to catch cod, ling, haddock and other white fish, and flatfish such as the turbot and halibut. There were two basic types of line fishing - sma'lines used inshore for smaller white fish, and the great lines used in deeper water for larger fish. Lines were often extremely long. The fathom was used as a measure of length, officially equal to six feet but usually the arm span of the fisherman making up the line. Line fishing was very labour intensive and could involve the whole family, with women and children working to gather bait and prepare the gear on shore before the fisherman even put to sea. Herring was often used as bait but in some villages it was customary to gather mussels for this purpose.<br /> <br /> In the 1920s seine-net fishing was introduced in the Moray Firth and became the standard method of catching white fish and flatfish along the east coast of Scotland. Wick acquired a large seine-net fleet, with a smaller fleet operating from Thurso. The technique involved shooting and hauling a long net to enclose fish in the water. An important part of the equipment was the dahn or dan-buoy, a pole that floated vertically to indicate the position of one end of the net or, in line fishing, the position of the furthest end of the line.<br /> <br /> Fishermen used landmarks such as headlands or prominent buildings to establish their position at sea, essential for locating the best fishing grounds or banks. These marks were also called meezes. Fishermen had their favourite grounds and usually gave them names.