Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Free fishing industry magazine Hook & Net talks to skipper Sid porter.

Taking advantage of the latest in online publishing tools, Hook & Net provides the fishing industry with an easily accessible and free monthly journal.  Plenty of images to support a wide range of fishing stories from around the UK, Europe and sometimes beyond, Hook & Line is supported by a range of knowledgeable and experienced writer.

Hook & Net can be accessed simply by downloading the app to your mobile phone or tablet, iPad - Apple or Android it works just as well - and best of all, it's free!

The latest issue carries an excellent example by Quentin Bates in covering popular Padstow skipper, Sid Porter who commands one of Waterdance's big netters, the Karen of Ladram - read on:


Simon Porter, known to everyone as Sid, skippers netter Karen of Ladram
Known to everyone as Sid, Simon Porter has netting in his blood. Apart from a couple of spells of potting and trawling, he has been fishing with static nets for all of his fishing career. Today he skippers Waterdance’s netter Karen of Ladram, working from the south-west of England to target primarily hake, as well as monk, turbot and other species.

‘I like netting, and you stick to what you’re good at,’ he said, and commented that he came from Padstow in 2007 to work in Newlyn for Drew Davis who owned the CKS, which was acquired by Waterdance in 2010.

Karen of Ladram heading out through the gaps from Newlyn.
The boat was then replaced by longliner Sparkling Line, which was converted to netting. Sparkling Line was then sold to become a crabber and replaced by Karen of Ladram – former pair seiner Boy John.

Simon Porter, known to everyone as Sid, skippers netter Karen of Ladram
‘We’re not changing again. This is the boat I want and this one will see me out,’ he said.

He said that the growth of the hake fishery has been rapid, and at one time couple of boxes of hake for each tier of nets was good fishing.

‘It was when I was steaming home past the Scillies on the CKS that I called Drew to let him know that we had caught 1000 stone (6.35 tonnes) of hake for a trip,’ he recalled.

‘Drew said he had never caught that much in a trip – and since then we’ve seen a thousand stone in tier. This year we were seeing 200 boxes in a a tier,’ he said, commenting that the boat is set up to handle around 300 boxes in a day when fishing is heavy.

‘I try to be a bit sensible about it. We’re geared up for big fishing, with the crew and the deck space, and I know what the boat and the crew are capable of. When fishing is good, you don’t shoot too much gear. But if you’re the first one fishing somewhere, you don’t know. This winter we had 300 box days, but over the last few months it has been quieter. Fishing has been quieter, still good, but more like it used to be,’ he said,’ adding that prices have gone up – but the hake price still isn’t close to what it ought to be.

Karen of Ladram homeward bound.
Unlike the Sparkling Line it replaced, Karen of Ladram has the capacity to carry several sets of gear, eliminating the chore of spooling one set of gear ashore to replace it when switching from hake nets to trammels for monk, and back, and with today’s heavier gear it’s also possible to fish more tide than in the past.

‘We didn’t used to fish the spring tides because it wasn’t worth it. Now there’s that much hake that it is. We only stop when we’re tired,’ he said, as Karen of Ladram and the rest of the netting fleet were tied up for a few days with the spring tides were at their peak.

Predation remains a problem, although there are ways to work around it, keeping to areas where seals are scarcer, and hauling gear to shift it from one place to another to try and lose the seals.

‘If you’re fishing the north areas, you’re doing well if you get to keep 50% of your monk, and I’ve seen everything gone in the past as the seals take a bite from every single fish in the net,’ he said, adding that lice are also a problem on some grounds, but these can also be avoided.

‘You need to time it so that you finish hauling as dark comes in. Anything you haul after dark will have lice, especially hake.’

Follow Karen of Ladram on Twitter

Story by ex-fisherman and crime writer, Quentin Bates.