As a great way to get a goodly amount of
fish in the winter time we set long lines along the Elie and the
Earlsferry beaches. This was a practice in which many of the
villagers participated. Our lines had either 25, 50, or 100 hooks.
The hooks were spaced about 5 feet apart. We set our lines along
the sand when the tide was almost at full ebb. The length of the
line was chosen according to the available length of sandy beach
that existed between the rocks where we chose to set it. The line
was staked flat along the sand by means of iron pins. Just as the
tide was ebbing we dug a sufficient amount of lug worms to bait all
of the hooks then carried the baited line on a board to wherever we
had chosen to set it. The board had short sides on three of its
sides to keep the coiled line in place on the board.
The line was then left to fish for 12
hours by which time the tide had come in and over the line and all
the way up the beach then gone all the way back out again. As
daylight arrived, you had
to be where your line was set, as the tide was ebbing, in order to
shoo away all of the seagulls that always spotted the fish that were on
Usually we caught enough rock cod, cod,
plaice and flounders to last the family for several days as well as
to give away to others.
It seemed like winter low tides occurred
always late in the evening so it was necessary to use a flashlight
when setting the line. Our catches were always greatest when the
nights were very dark and there was no moon.
well as being productive it was great fun.
I had a cat named Peter that followed me
everywhere and these lug digging and fishing expeditions, even in
the dark, were no
exception. When it saw all of the fish that were on the line it
made a great fuss. It also knew it had fresh food for the
ensuing days. Several times Peter went with me to sit and fish
at the Fish Rock alongside of the lighthouse. This was at least a
mile and a half from home. Peter was a great companion for many, many years.
Not far from our house was a beach front house by the name of
Beachmont that had a goldfish pond which
Peter thought had been placed there for him to do some fishing by
himself. Several times Peter arrived home with a live goldfish that
he placed on the step of our house. He'd then come in and insist
that he be followed out to the step to show off his accomplishment.
Not one of the fish that he brought home alive ever had a tooth mark
on it. His catch ended up in his own goldfish bowl to live on for