Tales from the salmon netting on the River Spey in the north east of Scotland


March 9th, 2008 by John Bennett

Though the crew is this video is Irish (it was the only one of salmon netting I could find on YouTube) the methods and equipment are much the same as those used on the Spey and other Scottish rivers. It’s worth noting, however, that the coble in the video has a higher prow than those used on the Spey – presumably because they’re fishing a sea loch and the boat has to be capable of dealing with what at times would be a fairly heavy chop on the water. The fact that they’re fishing a sea loch also means that they’re taking things a little more easily than was possible while hauling a net on the Spey, which is the fastest flowing river in the UK.

Though the first written records of the salmon fishing on the Scottish coast appear around the 12th century, salmon has been an important economic resource for many small coastal communities since the first people arrived at the end of the last ice age.

The commercial fisheries in Scotland (run under licence from the Crown from about 1700 onwards) employed a wide variety of nets and traps to catch the fish, favouring cruives (traps which caught the fish as they migrated upstream) and cobles with sweep nets like the one used in the video above.