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TITLE
Fishing Methods used in Caithness (11)
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_39
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Alec Thomson
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
41337
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.

'Ye see, when yer shot off at night sometimes ye'd hear e herring in e watter, playan, ye know, an making a noise. An then they'd watch e buoys. Ye know, e buoys, ye see there's a - whenever ye see at buoys gettan at, when e herrings in e net, under a weight, at buoys should, ye'd see e weight o em. E buoys dips, dips, til sometimes e buoys jist [?]. jist inside. E weight o herring's haulin it doon. Oh, whenever ye see at weight on e buoys turn to an get them in, fast as ye can. Because, the loss, the weight o herrin, ye'll loss e whole lot. Ye canna handle em, ye see. Yes, an net was lost at way.

Interviewer: What was e buoys made of?

In at days that Ah'm talkan aboot it was canvas, canvas, ye see? It was jist shooed [sewn] intil e like a jist like a shape o a barrelie [small barrel] or something, ye know? With, wi a wooden lid, ye know, an the canvas was made like a, jist a float, ye know, an it was pumped full o air, ye know? There's a pump for pumpan all e buoys. Pump them all up an then ye got a bit o oakum [teased out rope] an a bit o tar, tarry oakum, ye pushed it in for a stopper, ye know, an that was your buoy. Oh an it had a good lot o herring, at too. When it got too much, ye see, she'd go down wi ye.

Interviewer: Did they make them locally, e buoys, or did they get em fae e sooth?

Eh, no, no, no. The buoys, they came up from the, ye see, the buoys they came up from the, from the factory. There's factories down in e south makan fishing gear, ye see, an when e men bought buoys they bought them oot o the ship chandler's shop, ye see, in Wick there, ye see? Ye'd see them hingan on tae e roof ere. Ah think e last buoys Ah bought was six bob [6 shillings, about 30 new pence] each for them. Ah bought em there. They always bought em out e ship chandler's shop, ye know? Ye'd never make them yerself.'

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 (11)

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 /> 'Ye see, when yer shot off at night sometimes ye'd hear e herring in e watter, playan, ye know, an making a noise. An then they'd watch e buoys. Ye know, e buoys, ye see there's a - whenever ye see at buoys gettan at, when e herrings in e net, under a weight, at buoys should, ye'd see e weight o em. E buoys dips, dips, til sometimes e buoys jist [?]. jist inside. E weight o herring's haulin it doon. Oh, whenever ye see at weight on e buoys turn to an get them in, fast as ye can. Because, the loss, the weight o herrin, ye'll loss e whole lot. Ye canna handle em, ye see. Yes, an net was lost at way.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: What was e buoys made of?<br /> <br /> In at days that Ah'm talkan aboot it was canvas, canvas, ye see? It was jist shooed [sewn] intil e like a jist like a shape o a barrelie [small barrel] or something, ye know? With, wi a wooden lid, ye know, an the canvas was made like a, jist a float, ye know, an it was pumped full o air, ye know? There's a pump for pumpan all e buoys. Pump them all up an then ye got a bit o oakum [teased out rope] an a bit o tar, tarry oakum, ye pushed it in for a stopper, ye know, an that was your buoy. Oh an it had a good lot o herring, at too. When it got too much, ye see, she'd go down wi ye. <br /> <br /> Interviewer: Did they make them locally, e buoys, or did they get em fae e sooth?<br /> <br /> Eh, no, no, no. The buoys, they came up from the, ye see, the buoys they came up from the, from the factory. There's factories down in e south makan fishing gear, ye see, an when e men bought buoys they bought them oot o the ship chandler's shop, ye see, in Wick there, ye see? Ye'd see them hingan on tae e roof ere. Ah think e last buoys Ah bought was six bob [6 shillings, about 30 new pence] each for them. Ah bought em there. They always bought em out e ship chandler's shop, ye know? Ye'd never make them yerself.'<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.