Shooting the net
Shooting the net for the ring net method of fishing involved two boats or neighbours working together. One boat would shoot the net and her neighbour would pick it up.
The ring net was piled at the stern, ready to shoot when a shoal of herring was spotted. When herring were sighted the ring net was shot across the water. It was marked at intervals with buoys. This meant that the skipper and crew could easily watch how it progressed over the water. They called out to each other so they could measure when the net had been shot. The end of the net was marked by the winkie. The winkie was picked up by the neighbouring boat.
When boats worked like this they would be constantly talking over the radio easing the procedure along. The two boats joined by their net scribed a circle round the shoal of herring. Then they edged together, starboard shoulder to starboard shoulder. Four crew would jump from the neighbouring boat on to the shooting boat and take the end of the net and a tow rope with them.
The Sole Rope
There is a rope that runs around the bottom of the net called the sole. When the sole rope was drawn the net closed and the herring couldn’t escape.
The neighbour boat then steamed round to the port side. A rope was secured from her stern amidships to the boat that shot the net (now hauling in the herring). This allowed the neighbour to pull against the hauling boat and keep her steady in the water. The sole rope was pulled closed stopping the herring from escaping. Instructions were constantly relayed over the radio. The tension on the rope was tightened or slackened according to the sea conditions. This helped to keep the net in its ring while the sole rope was pulled closed. In this manner, the hauling boat was kept in position, preventing the herring from escaping, and also keeping the net away from the propeller.
Description – how the ring net was used adapted from Shemaron: A Beautiful Endeavour
Tagging exercise 1990
From the 10th February until 10th March 1990 a tagging exercise was carried out in the Clyde. Shemaron CN244 and Coral Strand CN267 were shooting the net to catch herring for scientific research. Scientists joined the boats on February 10th. The exercise began that night in an area lying south of Campbeltown known as the ‘Loden’. The weather conditions during this time were adverse keeping most of the normal fishing fleet in Campbeltown harbour. Because of the weather conditions, the boats had to catch herring where they could, rather than where they were most likely to be found.
Although herring could not be caught as hoped by the Ballantrae Banks, enough fish were caught at Brown Head and Whiting Bay to the southwest of Arran for the exercise to show results.
As a point of interest, this exercise in 1990 was the last time a ring net was ever used in the Clyde.
See BODC Cruise Metadata report for further details
This photograph of the Mary Ann shows more clearly how the ring net lay at the stern of the boat.
It is shared here courtesy of Applecross Life.
Shemaron’s ring net
This is the ring net that was used on Shemaron, it is on display at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther. Two nets were usually used on ring net boats, a larger one for deeper water and a smaller one for fishing closer to the shore. This is the larger sized net, and it was last used in the 1970s. The smaller ring net from Shemaron is in Carradale Network Centre, Kintyre, it was the net used in the 1990s tagging exercise on the Clyde.