Notes from an unknown fisherman/coble builder in the Staithes /Whitby area collected in 1973/74 by the late Tony Stephenson and donated by his wife Susan to SMHC in 2019 .
I started going to the fishing cobles when I was 12 years old (1922) so that's about 50 years ago.
It was mostly sailing and rowing, one relied on the wind mostly.
When we got motors in the fishing boats, it ment the of a lot of hard rowing and the end of relying on the wind, also one could go to sea when you wouldn't have gone, if you hadn't had a motor. Also one could go further to fishing grounds were it wasn't possible with just a sail and oars.
Well one could work more gear and also bigger catches.
Our boats were about 30ft. long and the fish caught was mainly cod, spragg, ling, haddock, whiting .
Sprag is a 12 to 14lb Cod or a young Cod.
Our distant is ruled by were the catches are best, any were up to 10 or 12 miles to the North or to the East.
Our average catch is really a thing one can't judge you get good catches and bad ones but if one gets a full weeks fishing and fair weather one satisfied with around 100st.
We work long lines and each line as 300 hooks and each line is 720 yards long we generally work 4 or 6 lines and each Hook is bait separately with mussels.
We generally leave our lines for one hour or alternatively all night.
No, there is no indication what's on the lines till you get your line back in the boat then the man who is hauling them can tell.
We sell it at the local fish Quay
all our catches are distributed to different centres in the country by big fish lorries.
There are in Whitby and there are only a few part timers done.
There is no fishing done at R.H.B (Robin Hoods Bay?) only an odd part timer. But there is a little done at Staithes 4 or 5 motor cobles, go long lining and crabing.
Well the yorkshire cobles are built here in Whitby by some of the local men. But the larger keel boats 60 to 70ft long are built in Scotland but they could build them here in Whitby if they had the orders but the local men prefer Scotland.
The cost of a Yorkshire coble 33 ft complete and ready for fishing today costs around £4000 that's with crab Pot Hauler included.
Well the profit as increased, also as the costs but one gets more for is fish and lobsters today.
Yes , one can make a living if he works hard and long hours, and put a bit away for a rainy day.
Well the hours of work are mainly due to the longer days, while its daylight the summer months about 22 hours but in winter around 12 hours through long dark nights.
In our coble the crew consists of 3 persons but in the bigger keel boats they have around 6 persons.
Well our catch in the Coble as now is around 30st.
We cant judge our outlay on one day because one as to take the week. Stamps (?) bait , oil comishion all has to be taken into considerate for the week.
Modern days pollution (to date) as little afect on our fishing, in deep water but what it will do in time, I think will (tell) , special among Crabs and lobster , in shallow water.
Those foreign fishing boats you see in Whitby are mostly foreign herring boats in for a rest at the weekends in the summer, mostly Dutchmen.
Yes I did catch Salmon but time goes by and last year 1971 was my last year for it, one of the reasons is there are many part timers at it
We caught Salmon by net. Mostly by drift nets, that is shooting your nets and letting them drive by the tide and hauling them in at intervals.
We also caught Salmon at the mouth of the river when there was a spate of fresh rain water down the river, the salmon used to run the fresh water and go up the river to spawn.
Yes, there isnt half the Salmon there was in the 30s, we caught more in a month then than you can catch in 3 now.
No I dont think they will become extinct but they will become very scarce . I think there will become very scarce. I think there will always be Salmon at Whitby as long as there is no pollution in the river
Well Salmon fishing at Whitby during the last 10 years as gradually declined, one of the bigest enmey to Salmon are the seals its shocking the number they eat. As the Salmon fisher men shoots is nets and one goes in the net, the seal take them out.
Well one never discloses how many they catch for finance reasons.
Monday Aug 20th 12st crabs
Tuesday 21st 7 st. crabs
Wednesday 22nd 7 st crabs 12X12 lobsters
Thursday 23rd 9 st. Crabs
Friday 24th 4 st 12X11 lobsters