A Day in the Life of an Inshore Line Fisherman (circa 1920)
by: Mackie, Dr. Lewis
It winted aboot twa an a half oors till high waater at nearly twa o’clock in the mornin fan I wannered doon tae the line-shed, wakenin young Jocky on the wye doon. I gaithered my twa line sculls, een baited wi’ mussels an een wi’ mackerel, Seven hunder hooks on each, an ilka een stretchin a half mile o’ half-pun line.
I waited at the gable en’ o’ Buckie’s hoose until he cam oot an we baith waited for Captain tae appear tae sort oot far we were gyan. Jocky an Captain appeared thegether an we picked up the sculls an wannered doon tae the yawls. Jocky heisted in the oars an put up the mast in the “Olive”, my yawl, an I made sure the bowstanes , the dans an the ropes were a inboard. I wis allocated the northmost sheetin, so we heided north tae the Auld Castle afore we turned sooth aboot and sailed until we took a bearin on the Twa Lans.
There wis still some flood workin so we shot oor lines sooth an oot ower the hard grun wi the use o’ the iron airm as the win wisna a’ that strong. The north en wis attached tae the dan rope an I put in a sma grapnel tae hud it as the tide wis jist too strong for the bowstanes.
We shot wi’ the tide an then lay wi the line end attached tae the yawl anchor. We then sat till the slack tide atween flood an ebb wis, ower fillin in the time wi’ a mug o’ tea Jocky hid frae his flask.
The tide began tae turn an the yawl swung roon on her anchor, so it wis time tae haul. Jocky took the oars an labored wi’ them, aye keepin her stern tae the line so that I could lift the fish an unhook them easily withoot ony wecht on the line, it’s easy tae tak haddock aff as they hiv siccan a saft moo bit fitins aften hiv tae be unhooked instead o’ the hook bein jist pulled oot. Nae that easy in a rockin boat!.
Noo,we hid a the ropes, grapnels an dans inboard so aff we set hameward. I put the sail up an made Jocky row at the opposite side tae the sail so we hidna tae reach awa doon by Ythanmoo tae mak an offin.We jist wint stracht intae the pier an unloaded oor catch tae the weemin. They started guttin an cleanin richt awa ,while Jocky got doon tae reddin the lines an makin gweed ony wints he fun, tae ready the line for the next trip.
Anither oor an it wid be halftide on the ebb so it wis time tae gaither mussels cos I found my scaup wis real bare. So I got my bike oot an set aff for the Neeboro tae the mussel beds. I got doon tae the botom o’ Inch Road aboot an oor before low waater an intae the muddy beds wi’ ma graip. God, it wis hard work like pullin manure strae oot o’ a midden. Gey sair on the back. Bit seen I hid four bags o’mussels full an washed, hid peyed the taxman, an arranged for the lorry tae pick them up that day.Then aff hame on the bike.We rarely took the bus cos o’ the smell fae the mussel beds. The driver didna like it, nor did his customers!
Fan I got hame there wis a basin o’ mussels shieled an ready for baitin. The Ythan mussels were big eneuch tae be one for each heuk compared wi the Montrose mussels far you wid need as mony as three per heuk.
So I hid something tae eat an began baitin for the next trip. The mackerel hid been nae bad as a bait and there’s nae doot that fitins makk a better kept speldin although the haddock is the sweeter fish.
I baited as afore. Ae line o’mussels an een o’ mackerel. An may the Lord gie us gweed catches!
The lorry arrived wi’ the mussels an the driver gave me a han doon tae the scaup tae spread them. He got a dizen speldins for his trouble an he set affwi a happy grin on his face.
Noo I hid a look at the fish which hid been gutted,washed, split an washed again,for fish widna keep if there wis ony bleed left on them. Then they were left in the salt for a certain time. Ilka fishwife haein her ain ideas as tae foo lang!
Aifter a’ this palaver the fish hid tae be dried in the sun for at least a day an taein in at the slightest sign o rain. Then ye hid a feast fit for a king. Speldins roasted in front o a glowin fire wi plenty oatcakes an butter.Naething better tae finish the day wi’. An then sleep!!!