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TITLE
Fishing Methods used in Caithness (6)
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_34
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Alec Thomson
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
41335
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 the fishing off the north coast of Caithness.

'Ye go way east then til - oh ye're jist away off o Borrowston, way doon aboot Borrowston, there's a bank doon there too, an that was good for cod as well, ye know? An over, there's another bank jist off o Crosskirk - Donald Taylor's Bank - at was a good bank for cod as well. That's three banks - Donald Taylor's Bank, and Borrowston, and Sandside Head. Sandside Head was e main bank, e whole east coast came up on it. I've seen e day ye wouldna get your dahn away, ere was at many boats on it ee couldna get your nets up. The main bank.

And then when the Stormy Bank, when Stormy Bank opened up - now e Stormy Bank is aboot 22 mile off o Holborn Head, nor-nor-west, 22 mile oot, til ee come oot on til e Stormy ground an then when ye come oot ye've all your marks off the Hoy land now, when you're workan on the Stormy Bank - an ye shut Rackwick, shut it oot o sight, an then it's, it's Hoy Sound land ye take, the hills at e back o Hoy, ye take hid off one at a time when ye come oot. An as ye go west the ground rises up like at. An it's shallow water - it rises up til aboot 28 fathom, at's e shallow water, an ere where ye get big, once ye got on e shallow water, on a Monday morning especially, ye got big shots o haddocks too an big, powerful fish it was, ye know?

But when ye go further west again it was bad for stones, it was an aaful place for stones, an it cuts all yer gear up, ye know? But it's good for fish. That's what they call the Shallow Water, oot on the Stormy Bank.'

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 (6)

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 the fishing off the north coast of Caithness.<br /> <br /> 'Ye go way east then til - oh ye're jist away off o Borrowston, way doon aboot Borrowston, there's a bank doon there too, an that was good for cod as well, ye know? An over, there's another bank jist off o Crosskirk - Donald Taylor's Bank - at was a good bank for cod as well. That's three banks - Donald Taylor's Bank, and Borrowston, and Sandside Head. Sandside Head was e main bank, e whole east coast came up on it. I've seen e day ye wouldna get your dahn away, ere was at many boats on it ee couldna get your nets up. The main bank.<br /> <br /> And then when the Stormy Bank, when Stormy Bank opened up - now e Stormy Bank is aboot 22 mile off o Holborn Head, nor-nor-west, 22 mile oot, til ee come oot on til e Stormy ground an then when ye come oot ye've all your marks off the Hoy land now, when you're workan on the Stormy Bank - an ye shut Rackwick, shut it oot o sight, an then it's, it's Hoy Sound land ye take, the hills at e back o Hoy, ye take hid off one at a time when ye come oot. An as ye go west the ground rises up like at. An it's shallow water - it rises up til aboot 28 fathom, at's e shallow water, an ere where ye get big, once ye got on e shallow water, on a Monday morning especially, ye got big shots o haddocks too an big, powerful fish it was, ye know?<br /> <br /> But when ye go further west again it was bad for stones, it was an aaful place for stones, an it cuts all yer gear up, ye know? But it's good for fish. That's what they call the Shallow Water, oot on the Stormy Bank.'<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.