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TITLE
Fishing Methods used in Caithness (10)
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_38
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Alec Thomson
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
41336
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 in detail about herring fishing.

'The drift net's a herring net. Ye see, if ye's talkan aboot e drift nets, that's a herring boat, ye see. Ye dinna shot your nets oot in e herring nets til e sun's takan e watter, jist before e sun goes down, then ye shoot your nets out then. An ye go - when ye're shootan your nets ye always shot before the wind, right before the wind, ye see, an at so as e boat'll off yur nets, ye see, shot them off, shot them off, an then, an then when ye shot off ye take a turn an ye lie there noo til e sun goes down ye know? Usually when e sun goes down, if there's any herring on e ground, ye'll get them playan on e, on e surface. They come up til esurface and they're goan wi their tails, splashan all ower e place, ye know? At's e herring playan, they say at's e herring playan. Ye look for at, you're never late when ye shot off. An then ye, ye haul them in in e morning, say aboot one or two o'clock in e morning, start hauling up the nets, see if the herring's in them. Oh ye'd get a, maybe a mark o herring, but an then sometime ye'd never get big hauls o herring, ye'd get maybe forty cran o the like o that, but it was seldom ye get a bit shot o herring.

An then in e month o September it is, when hit comes on, ye go til e east, Wick side, til Sarclet, Lybster, Clyth, an then all e way along that coast, from Wick harbour right doon as far as Dunbeath, til e Ord o Caithness. E herring's coman all inshore now. They're in til spawn, ye see, whenever the herring spawns, they make for e shallow watter. At's them away in tae e shore, an e herring fleets went an got them. They ken e time o year they came in, just aboot e first o September, what they call e, what they call it? E Lammas, e Lammas time. E Lammas moon, ye see, at's e [full] moon in August. Whenever at moon comes on, e fishermen say e Lammas moon, well at's e moon in August. Ye carry off an ye get big shots - an it's no a few cran but e fill o the boat wi herring, then. Right in. All e way along e Lybster coast. Great for herring, boy.'

The herring formed shoals at night close to the surface of the sea, the time when the fishermen tried to catch them by shooting driftnets which hung like curtains in the water. When the herring were brought ashore, gangs of women worked in teams to gut them and pack them in brine, a process called curing. Thousands of barrels of salt herring used to be exported from the Moray Firth herring ports, all the way to Russia. Some herring were also smoked to become kippers. The herring fishery was seasonal, beginning in the summer in Shetland and ending in the late autumn off East Anglia. The fishing boats and shore teams of gutters followed the fish.

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Fishing Methods used in Caithness (10)

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 in detail about herring fishing.<br /> <br /> 'The drift net's a herring net. Ye see, if ye's talkan aboot e drift nets, that's a herring boat, ye see. Ye dinna shot your nets oot in e herring nets til e sun's takan e watter, jist before e sun goes down, then ye shoot your nets out then. An ye go - when ye're shootan your nets ye always shot before the wind, right before the wind, ye see, an at so as e boat'll off yur nets, ye see, shot them off, shot them off, an then, an then when ye shot off ye take a turn an ye lie there noo til e sun goes down ye know? Usually when e sun goes down, if there's any herring on e ground, ye'll get them playan on e, on e surface. They come up til esurface and they're goan wi their tails, splashan all ower e place, ye know? At's e herring playan, they say at's e herring playan. Ye look for at, you're never late when ye shot off. An then ye, ye haul them in in e morning, say aboot one or two o'clock in e morning, start hauling up the nets, see if the herring's in them. Oh ye'd get a, maybe a mark o herring, but an then sometime ye'd never get big hauls o herring, ye'd get maybe forty cran o the like o that, but it was seldom ye get a bit shot o herring.<br /> <br /> An then in e month o September it is, when hit comes on, ye go til e east, Wick side, til Sarclet, Lybster, Clyth, an then all e way along that coast, from Wick harbour right doon as far as Dunbeath, til e Ord o Caithness. E herring's coman all inshore now. They're in til spawn, ye see, whenever the herring spawns, they make for e shallow watter. At's them away in tae e shore, an e herring fleets went an got them. They ken e time o year they came in, just aboot e first o September, what they call e, what they call it? E Lammas, e Lammas time. E Lammas moon, ye see, at's e [full] moon in August. Whenever at moon comes on, e fishermen say e Lammas moon, well at's e moon in August. Ye carry off an ye get big shots - an it's no a few cran but e fill o the boat wi herring, then. Right in. All e way along e Lybster coast. Great for herring, boy.'<br /> <br /> The herring formed shoals at night close to the surface of the sea, the time when the fishermen tried to catch them by shooting driftnets which hung like curtains in the water. When the herring were brought ashore, gangs of women worked in teams to gut them and pack them in brine, a process called curing. Thousands of barrels of salt herring used to be exported from the Moray Firth herring ports, all the way to Russia. Some herring were also smoked to become kippers. The herring fishery was seasonal, beginning in the summer in Shetland and ending in the late autumn off East Anglia. The fishing boats and shore teams of gutters followed the fish.