In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gill netting in the cove

We've been curious about the gill net that Skipper and his sons sometimes set in the cove during the summer. We have been the beneficiaries of their occasional harvests of pollack, herring and mackerel. But we haven't had a clue how that harvest actually happens.

Last week Skipper said he thought he'd leave the net in place instead of taking it down and then setting it again. So far they hadn't caught a single fish in it. There just hadn't been any fish in the cove yet this summer, he guessed.

But the net needs to be checked every day or so. If fish are caught in it, and stay caught for too long, the seals will get to them. So, Skipper said, we could row over and check it and take out whatever fish were caught in it. "It's easy," he said. "You just row along the net and pull it up as you go and you'll find the fish, if there are any."

So yesterday we rowed out to the gill net. It's about one and a half meters wide and thirty meters long, and it's anchored between two buoys. Along the top of the net, small black plastic floats keep it buoyed on the surface of the water.

Greg rowed up close and I started pulling up the net. At first I didn't have a clue what I was doing. But gradually I got the hang of it. You need to gather the net in one hand and move along it with the other.

Then with your third and fourth hands you can easily grasp the wiggling slippery fish who is quite understandably eager to escape from you. You push the fish through the net -- don't even think about trying to pull it out in the other direction. That's why it's called a gill net.

And then with your fifth and sixth hands you can easily hold onto it and deposit it into the bucket. Be sure not to let the net get tangled up as you do this. It may catch on some little part of your rowboat that you never noticed before.

I don't know how one person would do all this and row at the same time. And you do need to row, or else your boat will drift away from the net while you are doing all these other things. But then I am not Skipper or his son Garrett, for whom this is an easy little thing to do.

It was exciting to see the fish shining below us in the water, caught in the net. I have never had much to do with live fish, except for the goldfish we used to have in various garden ponds. So I was a little nervous about grasping one and extricating it from the net. But once I saw that it wasn't going to bite me I felt more confident.

We put the fish in a bucket that unfortunately was filled with rainwater, not seawater. They didn't care for it much. Next time we will do better.

We rowed home again and Greg went to work to identify our catch. We thought it was mackerel, but Skipper told us later it was gaspereau. Last night we had whole gaspereau, baked, with garlic, rosemary, chives, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper.

No comments: