This is a story from Scarborough College Magazine 1959-62 by D.N. Brown Va
By fishing I don't mean a weekend escapade with rod and line, or mooning by a river or lake trying to catch Monday's dinner, but deep sea fishing in trawlers that go out for three weeks around Iceland, Bear Island or the White Sea.
Last holidays I was invited to go on such a trip. We sailed on a cold, rainy Saturday morning from St Andrews Dock, Hull, the largest fish dock in the country. So there I was on the 'Bangers', a vessel of 12 knots, out on the way to Iceland, along with 18 other trawlers. I spent the three and a half day journey to the fishing ground reading and watching the radar screen until we reached the S.E. corner of Iceland. Captain Hornby rang 'slow ahead' and then ordered 'down trawl', a most exciting moment.
The net is very wide at one end and tapers off to the 'cod' end where all the fish eventually collect; at either side of the 'mouth' are 'doors' to keep the net open when trawling. The bottom edge of the net is cushioned by bobbins, large metal balls, which roll along the bottom and prevent the net being torn to pieces.
I was very interested in the echo sounders on the bridge. The main one consists of a large roll of paper and an arm with a sort of pen on the end. This roll moves under the pen slowly drawing a line which shows the ocean bottom. Fish shoals show as dark smudges. When a smudge is seen the net is hauled overboard by a steam winch. This is a dangerous operation, for if you slip and touch any one of the wire ropes which connect the net to the ship you may easily rip your flesh badly.
If I was excited when the net went down for the first time I was more exicted when it began to come up. 'Up trawl' shouted the skipper when the net had been down about an hour; the telegraph rings to let the men know they have to start hauling and then the toil of getting in the net begins. Gulls and fulmars wheel around excited, too, at the prospect of food. Suddenly the sea grows green, and hundreds of bubbles come up; the net reaches the surface and jumps four feet out of the water for there are a lot of fish inside.
Because of this the 'cod' end has to be split up about four times owing to the weight. When the bobbins are finally on board the men grab hold of the hooks and start on the actual net; a pulley called the 'Jillson' shakes the fish right down into the cod end. At last the 'bag' hangs abut five feet from the deck and water pours from it while the mate crawls underneath to untie it. The fish are sent spilling over the deck, which has already been divided up with boards so that they can be gutted easily.
The guts are thrown onto the deck while the liver is put into baskets, the fish being placed in a washer in the middle of the deck. There water is kept running over them all the time. One end of the 'washer' is closed, the other open, so that the fish can slide down a chute into the fish hold, where they are salted and iced.
The fishing went on, day after day. In the end we had 1,600 kit, a kit being a barrel about four feet high. Nevertheless, despite the catch, deep sea fishing is a very expensive business; the nets cost about £350 each, and on this voyage we lost two; then several bobbins were broken and a 'door' smashed in. In fact every time the net comes up there are holes to mend and these have to be repaired immediately. With the holds full, everything is stowed away, the ship polished up, and the journey home begins.
The crew seem to sleep most of the way. On arriving back in Hull everyone made straight for the pub. The fish we had caught were sold for £5,600. As, for me, I had conquered sea sickness. Iceland trawler