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Winter Fishing

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 the line.

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.

As 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 several years.