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

Posts tagged ‘Herring ring net fishing’

Keeping it all Alive.

A return to winter, wet and windy, over the last three days. Friday’s plan was shot to pieces by a full on migraine. So a mix of returning to bed and lying on the couch interspersed with a little radio was the story of the day up till evening. Semi recovered by around eightish and made it out to the Quiz night organised by Alison, Val and Zuzu with the aim of raising funds for Light of Hope, two of “our” students Wali and Tripti are involved in. https://www.facebook.com/light.of.hope.bangladeshPhotos of a busy evening are on the AEE site.https://www.facebook.com/ApplecrossEnergyEfficiency These migraines are frustrating in a way as they knock back your plans although doing book work is easily put aside. Not being able to enjoy events like the one on Friday is more annoying. I did manage to spend time with the Sheildaig contingent and was press ganged into answering some questions for them, not the ones I made up in the early evening of course. They did win the best name for the team and will have to plan their next meal at the Inn with scoops of Aron’s ice cream as a prize. The name was Bio-mascular by the way. Frustrating part of the evening was finding out I was unable to go on a fact-finding trip to Orkney for the IFG on the subject of scallop and lobster recruitment. Clashes with the last night of the Flensburg group’s visit to Applecross which will be culminating with Iron Midden’s visit to the Inn. Clashing with Coast Road Truckers and Manran in Torridon. And people wonder what we do out in the sticks. Another beautiful song from Kenya, so it was worth coming out, despite the high levels of noise. So different from the Shieldaig version of their quiz nights, where there is a hushed silence waiting for their next question from the quiz master. Back down the road on the bike and an early night.

The day after one of these days is like recovering from a day on the drink, luckily a distant memory now, so time was filled with a dog walk, bit of rugby and very little else until it was off down to the Inn for a full evening session and busy it was too. Inn fully booked and locals decided to make an appearance as well. waiting for tables was the order of the night for an hour or so but all well ending about a one o’clock finish. These are long shifts and I can see why Innkeepers have a dram at the end of the evening to soften the length of time it takes for guys that have spent a good night out to head for the road home. Part of the time-consuming job of being a publican. And then you start again the next day.

Skipped a walk on a very wet day,Wednesday, when I went round the Roe’s walk, one of the low-level wanders around the Estate.


I was curious to see how the larch cutting was getting on. Larch die back has been discovered here and to prevent the spread of the disease all the larch has to come down. Going around the walk from the Gardener’s Cottage end coming down to Alt Beag I was taken aback by the sorry state of the walk.


Good to know that we can recommend visitors not to walk up there as it looks such a scene of destruction. It will heal over time but not a pretty sight at the moment. Fascinating to see how sick and old some of the trees were.


It was enjoyed by the Pooches as weather does not bother them too much, although may have spent too much time at the Inn on the way home.


Also managed a day at sea on Thursday and awkward it was too, partly my own fault as my hauler plates were a little worn and hauling two fleets at 90 fathoms was a severe test of character. The next fleet was under some one else’s, so back it went for another day and it was left for me to haul a dirty fleet , keep it on board, and head for home. Fishing not too bad and will be landing to Spain first time for a while. Bright little gurnard came on board.


Immersed in the fishing of old with seeing  photos of the ring netters of my dad’s era. Surprising the memories I have of the era. Although very young the pictures trigger distant tales of some of the fishermen involved. The Catherine, once the sister of the Mary Ann went to the prawns after the demise of the herring and Norman used to hand start their engine in the morning, a brutal task. Looks like this was taken going through the Canal. I always appreciate being corrected and this is a sort of post meeting note added a few days after the initial post and after a chat with a far more knowledgeable retired fisherman than me. My memory of Norman coming up from below after hand cranking the Kathryn was from the Galilee, a boat they bought after selling the Kathryn and she had a 66 Kelvin that would be started on petrol and then once running would be switched over to diesel. Another correction was that the Kathryn was the Mary Ann’s neighbour ring netter and not a sister ship as that would have made her the same model. All good information and good to factually correct childhood memories.


Also came across an early photo of the Seonaid which was built by the Beaton brothers in 1934.


Ali Mackenzie was telling me on Saturday evening that Roddy Gillies from Culduie had stated that they were very foolish spending £1000 on building her. They went ahead and paid the boat off in two years. There were good times and hard times but the work was always hard and the equipment compared to today would have been fairly primitive relying on the men’s shoulders for the most part.


I mentioned a large catch in Toscaig and Donald told me on the phone that in the 70s,I think, a pair trawl shot their net off Toscaig Pier and hauled at Uags taking on board 800 cran of herring. A cran was the measurement of about 6 cubic feet or 37.5 gallons of fish, around 1000/1250 herrings. I suppose they thought it would never end. Gatefull to all those who are posting these photos and keeping those fishermen alive.

Chat about Herring,a Migraine and some Contrasts

A couple of days of intense contrasts. Following a phone call from Dundonnel it was off to Kenny’s at Shieldaig where we met up with Sue for a chat about the herring fishing, have to say several people more knowledgable than me from Applecross to talk on the subject.. Although Kenny and I had not a lot of involvement in the actual fisheries it was great to hear some of his stories and that in itself brought back memories about my Dad and the Mary Ann, the ring net boat he was engineer on. Kenny and his brother Dickie went off on trips when they were 7/8 years old and this was for the whole week. The negotiations between his Mum and Dad would have been interesting. His Dad’s boat, the Seaflower, would head of to Stornoway with the four share owners to pick up crew for the season and they were drift netting rather than ring netting. Also these boats did the ground nets in the spring for cod which came in to spawn and feed on the herring eggs laid in great quantities in days of plenty.  Kenny had spent 10 years with the Torry Lab working on fisheries research and what he was say about the herring spawn was fascinating. They used to take sample grabs of gravel and the herring spawn would be a sticky,like frog spawn,layer on top of the gravel. Seems ,like sea-trout and salmon they needed lots of oxygenation, hence the gravel base. Off Melvich,Gairloch and Ballintrae, south end of the Clyde,were two main herring spawning beds. Sue was suggesting that the young herring stayed in the lochs for a year before heading of out and they provided good feeding for the sea-trout population which following the herring collapse has also to a large extent disappeared. Descriptions of the spotless and warm focs’le where up to seven men ate and slept reminded me of trips over to Applecross from Kyle to the communions here. We were allowed down below and it was great us young guys messing about on the way home down below free from supervision and away from the pressures of the day’s church attendance. The trust and camaraderie of these men can only be imagined and the pressures on the skippers to find the fish to pay for their crew and families must have been great. My conversations with Hector in Kyle were remembered, he was also on the Mary Ann. Some of the stories had a bit of regret as well with my Dad telling me that they should not have caught the “mazy” herring, the herring that had not spawned. And Hector landing beautiful silver darlings for fish meal and in some cases dumped when they could not sell the herring but got paid the subsidy. My saturday lunches in August in the 70s I remember well, salt herring well boiled served with Kerrs Pinks, jackets bursting open. A great way to spend two and a half hours on a wet and windy Friday morning. The only drawback was my developing headache which I can control for a certain period of time but always wins out.

Off to Sarah’s for a pre planned massage and after warning her about my delicate health I only managed about half an hour before admitting I had a full blown migraine under way. After a visit to the bathroom and another attempt from Sarah I had to admit defeat and accept the kind offer of a lie down. To cut a long story short six hours later after a period of excruciating intense pain and lots of stomach upset I now know I can drive over the Hill with one hand and hold my head in the other. It did take an hour. What I will always remember is the sympathy and care people express when you are in trouble up here. Offers to stay in Shiedaig, offers to drive me home, looking after Dougal and family, even wishing they had a magic sympathy wish to cure me. I have to say that thinking about all this on the way home it was quite overwhelming and fits in with what I think is ultimate community spirit. People do care, we may disagree but we care. The one thing I would say in favour of migraines or like pain you know what ultimate pain is and you sympathise so much more easily when you come across other people’s pain.You also experience the intense relief when you come through. Maybe that sums up the wonder of life. Loved the comment this morning that my public image took a bit of a beating “being laid horizontal in Shieldaig Thai massage parlour for six hours”. Past the Hall where there was a busy AppleX factor taking place. It sounded a great night out and seems there is lots of talent here, singing, poetry and Chris with Emily taking the prize of the night.

The day after a migraine reminds me why I do not drink any more. Today is what it used to feel like the day after a hangover and a couple of good chats today and a good walk with Dougal and family on the Forgotten” walk although there were contrasts there as well when Dougal and his Mum decided to disappear and go off hunting hopefully mice and other rodents but suspect they may have taken a fancy to some venison on the hoof. They did appear after 20 mins and seeing I am no dog whisperer it was a smack followed by a relieved pat and hug, hope they understood, means they will be tired when I am out to work tonight. Although there are still lots of local politics rumbling on with another letter from the Trust and residents making sure the ACC is in line, which I take as good in that there is interest in what we do going to take a break on this. I think most people are getting excited on the news about broadband which is seeping out locally. We have to wait for national announcements before making it official but suffice to say it is all good. Nice views of clachan from the “Forgotten Path”

The colours even this late in the year are still so vivid. In the photo below there is much community and personal history. From the left is the Clachan manse then the Heritage Centre and the Clachan church and gave yard where my gentle grandparents are lying….much gentler than me I have to say .

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