Now in the days I was involved in it, there was just the island there being worked and the Lealt and Ruig, and there was a place in Portree and a place in Braes and a place in Raasay. But if you went back one hundred years or more there were far more stations around the shore, fishing stations we called them. There were bothies there, and there were places where the nets were put aside when you were finished in the autumn, and they were put aside in such a way that they would be ready for you starting afresh in the spring again. There were, we’ll call them trout, there were plenty of trout available then. You would get one hundred trout in July and August almost every day and you would get that in the other stations also. Thousands of these trout were going away to Portree and then they were packed in ice and sent to Glasgow and London. And the day you got one hundred trout or more the fishing master who oversaw the fishing, he came to lift that fish with a boat. He went round the shores and he would come round here and the boxes were put on board the boat he had and if you had one hundred trout or more, he would leave you a bottle of whisky. That is how things were at that time. But that disappeared and the trout disappeared and there is not a trout to be had. The river over there, as they say Kilmartin’s river, in August and September and the beginning of October it would be thick with salmon going up to the spawning grounds to spawn up there. I don’t know if today and you were on the river you would get ten or twenty trout altogether. Where did it go? I don’t know. But all of the fish decreased, such as haddock and that kind of fish. There is not one of them to be had, none of them to be had nowadays. I was out, yes I was at sea working on many different fishing methods. I was also out on a big boat that was here, on the east side here, which was called Flora MacDonald. I was out on that one and I was helping them, they were working with bed lines. They would start with that at the end of autumn. They would be working out of the firth and over towards Torridon and out behind Raasay and these places, and early in the year they would be fishing dogfish and these dogfish were skinned and sent ashore in Kyle. There would be boxes of them going ashore, stacks of them. You would get a pile of them in the nets, you would be working on them sometimes till midnight and one in the morning skinning them there, and putting them in boxes and they would go by train down south. When that was done, when that season was over at New Year or shortly after New Year, the lythe season would start and the hake season also. It was there as well at that time, and shortly after that perhaps round about April and the beginning of March, oh yes there was in April and the end of January, the cod started. And I saw sometimes there going to Kyle with seventy boxes sometimes eighty boxes between cod and lythe etc, going to Kyle with it, and if you set a net nowadays I don’t know if you would get a boxful. That shows you how all kinds of fish are disappearing, and they’ll tell you that there is as much fish in the sea as ever came out of it. I wonder sometimes if that is correct. That is how it was.

  • Lachlan Gillies (Lachie)
Saturday 13th September 2008