Aberdeen Harbour Board Fishing Committee reported a catch, 54,015 pounds
of salmon worth £4,444.17s.9d. Two years later came the 600th anniversary of
the grant of fishing rights by Robert the Bruce.
branch of trade has been long carried on with considerable spirit, and generally
with good success, at Aberdeen, and the rents of the
form an important item in the revenue of the town, and of several private
proprietors. Later the fishing has been carried on to a considerable
stake-nets on the beach.
Fishing on the Dee - concessions were granted for fishing by net across the
Dee and this was done by rowing the Dingy or Coble across the
river and looping round up river before returning to the shore to check the
content of the net. This Pot and Ford Fishing location from
upstream ofbelow the Rail Viaduct to the near the Duthie Park area
and looking towards the Auld Brig o' Dee. The gravel bank later had
a small Cafe built near it. A fair sized chimney in the background in the
Garthdee area. could be a water extraction pumping Station.
The Salmon fishing in this manner continued
but re-designated a position below the new Victoria Bridge.
The number of men
employed in salmon-fishing here were about 200, and the annual amount of wages
paid about £3000. In an average season, the quantity of fish caught may be
reckoned at 20,000 salmon, averaging 10lbs. each, and 40,000 grilses of 4lbs each, of which by far the greater part is packed in ice, and shipped for
London market, a very small part only being put into tin cases for
exportation. It is now about 30 years since the mode of using ice for
preserving the salmon fresh was introduced in
Aberdeen. Previous to that time,
the fishers were under the necessity of boiling it and preserving it with
vinegar, but this mode is now almost altogether disused. The average price
obtained for the salmon and grilse's sent to London was about 8d. per lb.
Mid Shingle Fishing
above Victoria Bridge
salmon-fishery is carried on
to a very considerable extent both in the
sea and in the
Rivers Dee and
rents accruing to the Magistrates of Aberdeen, and to various private
individuals from this source, are to a considerable amount.
A statement of the
actual quantity of salmon caught in the Dee and on the beach adjacent cannot be
given, because these 'fishings', being in the hands of persons possessing similar
fishings in other situations, it has not been deemed of importance to
distinguish the fish of each particular River or Station.
"Burning the water"
(spearing salmon at night). Though this
illustration is from
Nights of Salmon Fishing
in the Tweed (1843),
this type of fishing was widespread in Scotland up to the early 19th century.
This illustration is of "Sunning"
(spearing by day) One fisherman holds a net which was used to prevent salmon
bolting out of the pool. The horse's skull lying on the ground was also used to
frighten any salmon which tried to escape.
Salmon cobles, boats
although sometimes much larger in
It is difficult to say how long ago cobles first arrived in Western Scotland.
They are certainly associated with the
rivers and may have been introduced from there to the
at some time in the past, perhaps along with the associated methods of
like their seagoing cousins in
Yorkshire and Northumberland,
are clinker-built but from a non-Norse, probably
constructional tradition with unusual frames and no conventional keel.
They are decreasing but still not rare. There are plans of an
working at the
in the new river channel replacing what was the old rights to the
Raik and Stell Fishing
which would then have been be in the Albert Basin area in the old river channel.
One gentleman in clinker built Coble rowing and shedding out the salmon net from
the stern, one gentleman on the foreshore standing by the net,
this was done by rowing the Coble across the river and looping round up river
before returning to the shore to check the content of the net.
in background showing tramlines, gas lamps, heads of various people crossing the
bridge, stone pitched slope on north and south side of the bridge, chimney and
buildings at the junction of
South Market Street
North Esplanade East,
timber fence, the archways of the Victoria Bridge, only four at the south end
By the timber fence was an oasis of greenery
where a wee lad 'caught short' could gain relief and the 'dock leaves' would be
his saviour. He could then resume his adventures as an ittinerant seaman on old salvaged land
bound lifeboats on the Point Law spur.
Standing Salmon Nets -
Stake Nets or Bag Nets
Nets operate like funnel traps into which salmon swam and could not escape.
function and structure of the bag nets. The diagram below shows that bag nets are very large and heavy structures over one hundred
yards long and about 16 feet high. In addition the bag net portion with its
three chambers would be about 50-60 feet in length. The leaders for bag
nets had to be set out each week during the salmon fishing season. This was due
to the local culture which demanded that no fishing could take place on a
Sunday, and latterly the law also set out statutory rules on which days fishing
could take place and on which days fishing was prohibited. Thus the leader nets
had to be lifted and laid on a regular basis. The bag nets were secured to
the seabed with heavy anchors.
The bag nets and leader were
run out at right angles to the coast line and typically the
Aberdeen Bay for example, would swim diagonally towards the shore as they sought
the ‘scent’ of the river they were trying to get back to. This behaviour would
inevitably lead them into the path of the leader of one of the bag nets thus
causing them to turn and swim away from the shore along the leader with the
result that they would enter the bag net system at the end of that leader.
As you will see in diagram there were 3 bag nets, the
doubling, and the
The entrance to each gets progressively smaller, the final entrance being only a
6” wide opening through which the salmon entered the ‘fish court’ from
which they did not usually escape. Typically, once in the fish court, the salmon
would swim round that chamber by following the path of the nets and so would
miss the small 6 inch opening in the angled wings of the fish court. Although
not clear in the above diagram the bag nets were also netted top and bottom so
that they were completely enclosed apart from the openings which enable
the fish to enter the bags.
Occasionally a fish would escape through the small 6 inch opening, and often,
when the other fish saw how it was done, they would all follow suit and the
catch would be gone!
There were doors in the fish court through which, when opened, the fish catch
could be retrieved.
This picture shows the scale of the Box Nets as they stretch out over the
strand to deep water