Land and Sea - Fishing in times past

Fishing Pastimes

Extract from a letter, written by Donald Macdonald in 1987 to the pupils of Tolsta Primary School, describing life in the village around 1920.

"Trout fishing with rod and worm was popular. Sand eels were caught on Giordale Beach with a corran shiol - a sickle whose blade had been straightened and which had a hook at its end. These sand eels, caught at ebb tide, could be boiled and eaten or used as bait on small lines for catching flounders, haddocks and gurnards.

"A group of youngsters from the North End, ably led by Norman Murray (49), started inshore fishing with a cutter. The cutter had once been a lifeboat from a boat torpedoed off the Butt. She was registered as the Clan Murray , but was always known as The Cutter . Her crew averaged about 17 years of age and they often invited me out with them at weekends and during the summer holidays, when I could get away from driving a horse and cart for which I earned three shillings a day.

"Most of the cutter's crew emigrated. The skipper Angus Murray (49), a born leader, died in Montana; Norrie Morrison, his mate, died in Winnipeg; Alex Gunn died in Ontario; Murdo Mackay is a retired minister in Minneapolis; Alick Murray is living in Vancouver; Kenny Maciver drowned off the North Cape of Norway and John Maclennan was killed in the Dover Channel in 1940. Two other members of the crew were Murdo MaciverSight (43) and Murdo Murray Sonaidh (49).

"What a wonderful lot of men they were and what a loss to the village when the Marloch sailed in 1924."