National Geographic : 1921 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE seasons and to run in and purchase it at the lowest price and without the loss of too much time, and his good judgment is called for a hundred times during a voyage. To be at once a navigator, a sailor, a fisherman, a diplomat, and a business man makes of the American Bank fishing skipper an outstanding type, and the most of them are splendid fellows. They earn good money, but deserve every penny of it. THE SALT FISHERMAN'S LIFE IS EASIER While we have taken the market Banker as a study in the foregoing, the salt Bank fisherman and halibuter present but little differences. The fishing is carried on from dories in a somewhat similar manner, but the salt fishermen, as a rule, take life easier. The season for salt fishing ex tends from March to October, and the schooners make from two to four trips during that period. The method of fish ing by "flying sets"-towing the dories and dropping them over the Bank-is carried on to some extent by salt fisher men, but these craft usually anchor on the Bank, and the dories row away from the vessel, take up their position, and set the gear. If fishing is good, the lines are left in the water and "under-run"-i. e., the fish are taken off and the hooks immediately baited again without hauling the whole line up and taking it aboard the schooner to do so. When the fish begin to thin out, the gear is taken up and the schooner makes sail for another fishing ground. Halibut fishing is possibly the most ex citing of all. Cod, haddock, and similar species are quiet fish, with but little life in them when hauled up from the bottom. But the halibut is a fighter and has to be clubbed by the dory-men before being taken into the dory. In the summer months, when the fish are inshore in shoal water, the halibut is a troublesome fellow to land. I remember while halibut fishing around Anticosti, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the terrible struggles we had with fighting halibut in forty and fifty feet of water. The writh ing and squirming of a hundred-pounder would give a fisherman all he could man age in getting him aboard the dory, and very often he would have to cut the snood and let the fish go, lest by his struggling he capsize the boat. Even when the fish has been clubbed into quietness and hauled into the dory, he will wake up and thrash the oars, thwarts, and gear overboard by the smacks of his tail. Old-time halibuters provide for this contingency by lashing the halibut's tail to the rising-strips of the boat. In deep water, say Ioo fathoms, the halibut are not so wild. The long pull from the bottom to the surface has ex hausted the fish and they are more easily handled. An instance of the daring of fishermen was seen by the writer on a halibut trip when, during a savage squall, a heavily loaded dory was half swamped by a comber. The two dory-mates tied lines to some of the fish and hung them over board to lighten the boat, while one man bailed and the other kept the dory bows on to the sea. Unable to row down to the schooner with the fish overside, they remained thus for two or three hours, until the vessel worked to windward of them and picked them up. HAND-CAUGHT FISH ARE SUPERIOR In addition to long-lining from dories, a few vessels fish by means of hand-lines from dories. Hand-line dories are a trifle smaller than the others and one man usu ally fishes from them. The hand-line is equipped with two or three hooks and a lead sinker, and the fisherman will operate several lines at a time. Cod and haddock caught by hand line are conceded to be superior to long line-caught fish, and this method is em ployed in both fresh and salt Bank fishing. The age of the clipper ship and the seamen who sailed them is gone, but in the American Banksmen we find the smartest sailing craft and the smartest sailormen afloat today. But the steam and motor trawler is coming into the American fisheries and many of the tall sparred schooners are having their sails and masts cut down and internal-com bustion engines installed. In a few years from now the schooner fleet will give way to power and the sailor-fishermen who drove these smart and able hookers over the seas will have evolved into sea-mechanics.