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TITLE
Fishing Methods used in Caithness (8)
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_36
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Alec Thomson
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
2795
KEYWORDS
audios
fishing industry
fishing
fishing boats
fishing nets
fishermen
fish

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Alec Thomson was a Thurso fishermen. In this audio he remembers life on board the drifters.

Interviewer: Did ye ever sail on a drifter?

'Was Ah ever on a drifter? Ah was on three o them. Ah was on e 'Azure Voyage', Ah was on e 'Spectrum', an Ah was on e 'Mistletoe'. At's three big drifters. But when Ah was on e drifters it was e herring fishing Ah was at. During e summer months, an e Yarmouth fishing, ye know? When we was fishing in e Wick boats was away workan aboot, oh aboot seventy mile off o Wick an away oot in at direction, away til e east, away oot off o Wick bay ere. And e whole east coast was workan oot there. An then there was two fleets o boats workan on at ground, an anither fleet from Stronsay. E Stronsay boats was all ere. E Stronsay fleet an e Wick fleet was workan e same grounds, but Stronsay fleet they landed their fish in Stronsay, ye see? Nearly all Moray Firth drifters, an we always went til Wick wi wir catch, ye see?'

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 (8)

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 he remembers life on board the drifters.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Did ye ever sail on a drifter?<br /> <br /> 'Was Ah ever on a drifter? Ah was on three o them. Ah was on e 'Azure Voyage', Ah was on e 'Spectrum', an Ah was on e 'Mistletoe'. At's three big drifters. But when Ah was on e drifters it was e herring fishing Ah was at. During e summer months, an e Yarmouth fishing, ye know? When we was fishing in e Wick boats was away workan aboot, oh aboot seventy mile off o Wick an away oot in at direction, away til e east, away oot off o Wick bay ere. And e whole east coast was workan oot there. An then there was two fleets o boats workan on at ground, an anither fleet from Stronsay. E Stronsay boats was all ere. E Stronsay fleet an e Wick fleet was workan e same grounds, but Stronsay fleet they landed their fish in Stronsay, ye see? Nearly all Moray Firth drifters, an we always went til Wick wi wir catch, ye see?'<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.