Nets

Trawl net

 

The trawl net is drawn across the sea bottom, weighted by metal bobbins and the water pressure keeps the great mouth open. Mid-water trawling is done for the herring and mackerel as the shoals swim higher than the white fish. Two boats were used to tow for herring and later some went to purse netting and were catching as much as a thousand crans in one shot. Trawling has greatly diminished the stocks of fish and the Moray Firth is now largely devoid of stock. “There is no fishing in the winter time from Avoch at all, apart from a few little boats that go down for the prawns to the west coast” - John Patience.

 
  Seine net
 

Seine netting - This type of fishing was introduced from the Danes. It had a weighted cod end, and was pulled through the sea like a trawl net, but tied to a flag buoy. The fishing boat would move away when shooting the nets and return to the flag picking up the line and catch at the same time. The bag gradually closes as it nears the surface so trapping the catch.

 
  Drift net
 

Drift netting - this used to be the traditional way of catching fish. The net was floated by corks to lie mid-water (about 3 yards below the surface) and was held down by a strong rope or stones tied with seaware (seaweed).

 
  Preparing the nets
 

Preparing the nets - here the nets are being dried and mended, processes which were done at one and the same time. They are hung from the poles (“the polies”) which were down by the shore near James Street and The Dock. Net mending was done mainly by the men in Avoch, although some of the women mended their husband’s nets. but most of these female net menders married into the village form other seaboard communities.

 

Drying the nets today

 
  Drying the nets today
 

Shark in the netShark in the nets! - Avoch fishermen at Castleby, Barra, checking the nets which a shark had just been through. They had to immediately set to and wash and mend the net as it would rot from the noxious slime left on it from the shark. They would dip it in a bark solution called Cutch, which came from West Africa and the process was known as “barking”. Barking was used to colour and stiffen the cotton nets as well. Left to right: Sandy MacIntosh, Danny MacLeman jsnr, John Jack, and Donald MacLeman snr.