A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘herring bait’

A Sad Day in the Highlands.

Woke this morning to some sad, sad news. Took a while for it to sink in but then there was the realisation that Charles Kennedy had passed away. Dozing off and on and as it was a breezy morning and no pressure on getting up. Breakfast sorted and then Alison was on the phone to BBC5Live as part of a tribute half hour to Charlie. After a little visit to the streets of the Fort Alison came on to describe Charlie’s visit to Applecross when we opened the  Filling Station seven long years ago. He came with his family, Sara and wee Donald. He filled up the locally volunteered fire engine and then he and Donald went for a little run in it. We had a meal in the dinning room after the formalities and you very quickly forgot he was your MP. He made you so much at ease and said that we had made Donald very happy by having a piper at the opening and getting a “shot” in the fire engine as they were his two favourite things at the time. Hearing Alison relate this on the radio and then listening to Hugh Dan and Ian Macdonald relating to personal experiences brought it home, how much he was liked and also how sad I felt for not voting for him. That in itself says so much about the man, the man who made people feel that they knew him personally even although they would have only met him half a dozen times in their lives. Last night I was at the Filling Station working on it as a local had little or no diesel to get to where he wanted to go and after about half an hour of mainly IT stuff was chuffed to get it going again. Have not done the “remote” reboot although at the Station itself but before that had to reset the screen as the cursor was not behaving itself. It is only through working out and actually doing these actions that you learn. I think that is what Charlie stood for, as well as the big picture, to help us help ourselves. Recommend anyone who is interested to have a read of Alister Campbell’s moving tribute of a man he obviously was close to and loved.

(So to what I had written earlier at the Inn on Sunday morning)  Quiet spell at the Inn, something we have not had much lately. Indeed the last week has flown by with the drilling at the beginning, busy Inn and three days on the water catching langoustine. The days at sea have been hard work with a little motion, just enough to tire you out but not nearly enough to come in. Mind you I wonder why we put these little burdens on ourselves. If I do not want to go out why should you look for reasons not to. If you have enough money, don’t go fishing does it matter if some one calls you lazy.

Wednesday/Thursday at the Inn were silly busy but it has quietened of considerably last night and today. The weather is still changeable and that is being charitable. On Friday it was hailing on my sun hat. Sums up the weather we have had recently. Friday morning, it was calm9Q7Q9743 and peaceful




but the westerly breeze on the Sound makes for a long day. Being single handed for me has been the best but it does mean that from the start of the day to when you come ashore it is constant motion. I have not long to steam to get to the gear and little time between fleets. One of the jobs is to have the bait ready for the next haul.


Saturday was busy but very manageable as was Sunday at the Inn. We are now in a slight lull before the schools break up. The Fri/Sat catches were not too bad and on Saturday morning saw The Grace Anne at the pier, time of year despite the weather.


An every day sighting is the large gathering of seals on the rocks as you go out of the moorings. No seal trips needed here. A study issued this week claimed that the huge growth in their numbers are inhibiting the cod recovery on the west coast. Never very sure of these stats as you often find that nature is in balance until we intervene, certainly a case in the modern world.


A positive of the weather we are getting many different changes in the light as the fronts roll in and over us. Sunday evening being no exception.


Forgot my ice cream so back on the bike and was rewarded with another viewing. Dougal and Eilidh delighted to join in.


Friday was a little frantic in the planning but worked out better than expected. Out in the morning for 300 pot haul and enough prawns to see the weekend through and then off to Shieldaig for an overdue massage and chat. Long catch up as have not been over for about six weeks with Sarah being in Portugal. Although relatively relaxed, not too much time to lose as I was picking up bait and making it back to the Inn for an extra shift. Leaving Shiedaig on the north coast,looking back summed up the weather we have been having, a north westerly squall coming up the Loch,


Shieldaig in the light and the Torridons covered in ominous darkness.


And coming round the coast road at Cuaig where the Sound opens out a different scene. This is one of the reasons why so many people love visiting this part of the world. Around the next corner another piece of magic.


Turned out that they were well covered at the Inn and had the evening off.

And now back to Tuesday where I may well pop out for a look in the creels as the wind has dropped off. Target going out at twelve and maybe lift half a dozen fleets. Yesterday again seemed like a day in February with strong gusty winds and later on heavy rain. Down to the pier to do a little work on the creels, they are not going out very fast but as the weather has meant days when they are lying between hauls it has not meant much lost fishing time having them on the pier. Noticed some of that fast growing coral on the creels, this from a fleet I had lost earlier in the year and tried five or six times to get it hooked up with another fleet. Would have been in the water for about six months. Lovely purple Coral? growing beside the white coral I was taking the snap off. Would not have seen it otherwise. Looking at the twine it is covered in so much growth which I take to be a healthy sign.


With bait salted job done.

On the day Charlie Kennedy died it seems a very bitty post but that may well reflect emotions felt but also an appreciation of what we have and a knowledge of what he loved about the constituency he represented so well. The beauty of the surroundings and the people who live here.


One Stick and three Dogs.

One of these days when you feel Spring is just around the corner, not from the weather or such like but not quite enough hours in the day to do what one had planned. mind you I had not envisaged a trip to Shieldaig  but a massage and picking up bait on the way back round the North coast is what took up the afternoon. The morning was taken up with the dogs run out on the beach,


endless amusement, worth their weight in gold.


Unfortunately our twenty year old cat, Haggis, is no more as Alison and Jill took her to the vet yesterday and the prognosis for such an elderly cat was that she should be put to sleep.

Last night it was to an ALPS meeting mainly to discuss the Pier and Gateway wood project. I found it a really good open meeting where people who did not agree talked and put forward their views and at the end of the evening there was a consensus amongst those who were there that we were not going to go ahead with the pier, still my preference as I think taking wood out by road does not make any sense regarding the carbon footprint when there is an alternative, but happy to go along with the majority. Next we expressed concern over other contractors and finally decided that it would be better to drop Gateway from the ALPS partnership. It has to be said that not all partners were represented and the final decisions may be made elsewhere. There seems to be a growing feeling that there is a capacity within the community to sort out the mistakes of the past, maybe leasing the plantations are a way ahead as communities now attract grant aid and it may be possible to set up a social enterprise model to solve the problem. It was one of the better meetings and a lot was discussed and decided.

This morning Dougal and Co had a great time on the bay sands, after a charge about getting the stick from the water there was a bit of a dispute over whose stick it was.


It did go an a bit but it was expended energy which is all good as far as Dougal is concerned.


Home and then straight back out to take some photos of the Filling Station as we are now being forced into looking at alternatives as Gilbarco seem to have washed their hands of us. It has been a serious character forming exercise dealing with them and I have to say that I have only lost it twice over the years, once by email, capital letters, and once by answer machine although no sweary words. Clachan, looking picturesque.


So it was over the Hill and it was worth going up just to have a look in itself.


The journey was a pleasure in bright sunshine and a thin layer of snow although it was threatening to blow in.


Met Peter on the way up so relaxed about getting over.


IMG_7832Hard to believe what you are seeing on the news is happening not that far down the road.


Badly needed massage and I think it was due to being back at sea and carrying a couple of strains, it was certainly painful but I suppose it is not every day you pay some one to walk all over you, quite literally in this case. A stop off at Aird to pick up a few slabs of herring and salt to get me going again. Good to have decent bait, not the rain damaged smelly bait I have been using over the last couple of weeks. It still fished surprisingly well but this should be better. Now we just need some weather. Going round the coast through heavy snow showers I was glad I was not on the Hill.


Tonight’s meeting was the Community Council and very relaxed it was with our new minute taker being told that no one was under caution so there was no need to note everything that was said. Saves a lot of legal costs if you run meetings with this in mind. Always have a bit of humour during these meetings while still carrying out the business in a proper manner. Not taking oneself too seriously helps. Still they do last until around nine even when you try to push things along if things get too jocular.

Meanwhile back at the Bay. Posting in the morning as uploading proving to be awkward.



The sun is back today and I sorted out some prawns to land for the Spanish market and the Inn and picked up a half ton of frozen herring at Ardheshlaig. Maybe five or definitely ten years ago I would have done all this after a day’s fishing but common sense prevails now. May change in the future but I have the work/life balance sorted out. Kept a couple of boxes of prawns a little too long and, although there were fewer casualties than I expected, the smell of  decomposed prawns is extremely unpleasant. Called in for the dog family for the trip round the north coast, stopping by the Filling Station where Paul was reconstructing the hardware.


Replacing hard drives, increasing memory and quite a few other parts were going to be attached. Here is hoping but speaking to Paul the software engineers seem to be genuinely puzzled as why the system is not operating as it should in Applecross.




Glorious drive and the whole way was a photo shoot, I only stopped at Cuaig and took a couple of east/west shots, looking across to the north end of Skye and back to the Torridon Hills. I love the hills when they have a distinct snow line. Dougal and co were very patient and had a snuffle about as I dealt with prawns and herring. Thinking about how we fish now on the way back. When I first came to Applecross we used to put drift nets out for herring in Loch Toscaig. Now the herring is bought packaged,  blast frozen and stored on the east of Scotland. This is all very convenient but probably environmentally ver inefficient using up all the energy to keep bait. Also this conversion of a fantastic source of omega 3 into a cash crop is not the best way to manage our fishing stocks. But I do live in the capitalist west where production of money is more important than anything else. Stopped off at the bay and they could hardly wait for the dash down to the low water mark.


Dougal is turning into a bit of tick collector and there seems to be a lot about just now despite the coldish weather and all the fires…..one reason I heard for justifying them!!! Bit more gardening, followed by a very short Community Council meeting where the only major item on the agenda was the medical service update. Had a largely inconclusive discussion about the accommodation problems facing a new resident GP. No members of the public there and as a previous councillor used to say “all’s well”, not so sure I agree with that…. And yes a sunset aftermath.


A recovery day yesterday but had to do something so baked some bread in the afternoon before heading up the road for another evening shift. Home made bread just out of the oven, spread with melting butter and home made raspberry jam is just the best.


Less busy and very pleasant, still, all tables used at least once and people waiting but only for ten minutes.

Seemingly some one died yesterday and there has been an awful lot of talk about legacy. Very little to add but here I do not think selling public housing off cheap to people who could afford it and selling off public utilities, again under priced, has not helped rural communities. Here we have to pay money to a private company to upgrade a national asset so we can use it  and as for housing we have empty former “council houses”. Making money has become a priority and the long-term consequences seem not to matter. If the price of a house doubles or trebles in twenty years, no-one has actually earned that, or made anything to justify the increase. I think the bill is simply passed on to the next generation when it is made so much harder for them to survive on a living wage or buy a house and yet I see wealth all around me every day. Makes me very uneasy.

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