Traditional fishing - Longlines
A single line with an average of a hundred hooks baited with mackerel, scad, sardine or pilchards stretched across the seabed. The longline has been used by fishermen the world over. The single line is strong enough to withstand being shot over very rough ground. The method of fishing is more selective as the large hooks used mean that only mature fish can take the bait.
The hooks themselves are attached to a short strop or snood, the length of the snoods determines the distance set between each hook. Each longline is around 100m in length. There is an eye spliced in each end of the line so that the anchor and dahn line can be attached. On deck the lines are stored in a basket with the hooks held arranged in order around a thick hemp rope set on the rim of the basket. Plastic balls, buffs or dahns are used to mark each end of the line and an anchor or weight used to hold the ends of the line in place on the seabed.
Once the boat is positioned over the fishing ground the fishermen will bring the boat round so that he shoots ‘with’ - in the same direction - as the tide. This applies to most operations whether line, net or trawl fishing when putting fishing gear in the water. The line is shot over the side or stern of the boat with the hooks being baited with mackerel at the same time – the most dangerous part of the operation – as the fisherman has to avoid getting ‘hooked up’. On small boats the hooks are normally pre-baited.
Until longlining was replaced by gillnetting there was a fleet of around twenty 12-20 metre longliners in Newlyn. Each boat's 2,500 hooks were baited as the lines were shot over the stern - three baiters standing around each basket, watched by the shooter whose job it was to monitor the speed of the baiters against the speed of the boat which governed the speed with which the line was shot.