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TITLE
Fishing Methods used in Caithness (9)
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_37
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Alec Thomson
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
2797
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 talks about seine net fishing.

'When e seine net fishing came in, ye see, it was a easier, was easier way o fishing than line fishing, ye see? An there was a new method, an they was takin all kinds o fish up, ye know, haddocks an flats [flatfish] an skate an all at, ye see? An it was an easier way o catchan fish. There no need til go an get bait for lines an work, an haul lines an at. Once ye hauled your net in at e seine net, ye see, yer gear was aboard, ye see, an ye could come home or else ye could start, keep, keep fishin. But, ye see, wi the line fishing, if ye'd got twenty lines shot in e sea, ye hid til stop ere til ye got e last ch-, e last line in. But no, the seine net, ye see, e seine net is out, shottan an haulan all the time. Ye could come home anytime, especially wi bad weather; if ye seen e sky gettan black like at, ye'd just say, 'Ach, iss is e last drag an then we'll go home'. But wi the line, ye hid so many lines, ye'd have til stick it oot til see if ye got them, got them in wi ye.

Interviewer: Can ye tell us how ye shot a net, wi e seine net?

The first thing ye do, ye lay your net on, ye see, prepare your net for shotting, ye see? Now it's no, it's e ropes ye sho - there's aboot nine, say nine coil o ropes on each side o the boat, ye see? Now ye shot your ropes first, ye don't shot e net first. Shot wan side, run it oot like at, e first seven coil like at, ye see, an then when ye got two coil left or a coil an a half left, turn your boat at way, ye see, an shot the next coil an a half til ye come til e net. Now e net, ye jist shekel [shackle] e net on, an ye let e net run out, ye see, an then there's a bag, bag o the net - when ye come til e bag o e net ye fold e bag oot like at , clear o the corks at they'll no catch in e corks, an then ye run e ither wing oot, ye see? An then ye just run another coil an a half oot on at side o the net, an when ye get that oot ye come back then til yer dahn, see? An e whole thing is shot in a triangle, throw it oot in a triangle, an e net is right in e centre o the ropes, ye see? An ye take e two ends in like at, pull e two ends, an ye take it til e winch, an then ye come ahead on yer engine, an take e strain on yer ropes, an ye tow the net for aboot a ten minutes, lift e rope, tow, an then ye start heavan yer net up. There's four gears on yer winch, it's e same as a car, ye see, an start heavan in slow first, ye know, til ye see the ropes coman. E ropes, when yer, tell e when e ropes comes like at, comes closer an closer - an whenever ye get yer ropes tight together like at, put her up in fast gear, an heave her up. E fish at's in's in, an's oot's oot. E fish is all trapped then, ye see. Take it up like at an heave it up at way. Och it's a very simple way o workan. Ye've only got til see it once an ye hiv it.'

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 (9)

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 talks about seine net fishing.<br /> <br /> 'When e seine net fishing came in, ye see, it was a easier, was easier way o fishing than line fishing, ye see? An there was a new method, an they was takin all kinds o fish up, ye know, haddocks an flats [flatfish] an skate an all at, ye see? An it was an easier way o catchan fish. There no need til go an get bait for lines an work, an haul lines an at. Once ye hauled your net in at e seine net, ye see, yer gear was aboard, ye see, an ye could come home or else ye could start, keep, keep fishin. But, ye see, wi the line fishing, if ye'd got twenty lines shot in e sea, ye hid til stop ere til ye got e last ch-, e last line in. But no, the seine net, ye see, e seine net is out, shottan an haulan all the time. Ye could come home anytime, especially wi bad weather; if ye seen e sky gettan black like at, ye'd just say, 'Ach, iss is e last drag an then we'll go home'. But wi the line, ye hid so many lines, ye'd have til stick it oot til see if ye got them, got them in wi ye.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Can ye tell us how ye shot a net, wi e seine net?<br /> <br /> The first thing ye do, ye lay your net on, ye see, prepare your net for shotting, ye see? Now it's no, it's e ropes ye sho - there's aboot nine, say nine coil o ropes on each side o the boat, ye see? Now ye shot your ropes first, ye don't shot e net first. Shot wan side, run it oot like at, e first seven coil like at, ye see, an then when ye got two coil left or a coil an a half left, turn your boat at way, ye see, an shot the next coil an a half til ye come til e net. Now e net, ye jist shekel [shackle] e net on, an ye let e net run out, ye see, an then there's a bag, bag o the net - when ye come til e bag o e net ye fold e bag oot like at , clear o the corks at they'll no catch in e corks, an then ye run e ither wing oot, ye see? An then ye just run another coil an a half oot on at side o the net, an when ye get that oot ye come back then til yer dahn, see? An e whole thing is shot in a triangle, throw it oot in a triangle, an e net is right in e centre o the ropes, ye see? An ye take e two ends in like at, pull e two ends, an ye take it til e winch, an then ye come ahead on yer engine, an take e strain on yer ropes, an ye tow the net for aboot a ten minutes, lift e rope, tow, an then ye start heavan yer net up. There's four gears on yer winch, it's e same as a car, ye see, an start heavan in slow first, ye know, til ye see the ropes coman. E ropes, when yer, tell e when e ropes comes like at, comes closer an closer - an whenever ye get yer ropes tight together like at, put her up in fast gear, an heave her up. E fish at's in's in, an's oot's oot. E fish is all trapped then, ye see. Take it up like at an heave it up at way. Och it's a very simple way o workan. Ye've only got til see it once an ye hiv it.'<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.