Haaf-Net Fishing - Methodology

A line of Haaf Net fishers working together as a team

The Haaf-Net consists of a rectangular wooden frame of 5.5m x 2.2m from which a net is suspended. The middle leg is extended to allow the fisherman to carry the beam and also tip the beam up to trap the fish. Both the beam and the net are hand-made locally using traditional methods.

The most common use of the Haaf-Net is to wade out to fish the ebb tide at about 4-5 hrs before the next flood. After finding a breast (that is Norse for a slope), the fisherman faces the outgoing tide holding the net to catch the salmon, which he has to carry in a bag on his back. The Haaf-netters will sometimes fish in a line or in small numbers and even alone depending on the ground. Fish, when trying to go back to the sea, swim back deep. However on a flood tide it is the opposite - they tend to swim in the shallows looking for the fresh waters of the river. It is extremely difficult to catch the fish in this way. This is why a 'gillie' (expert Haaf Net Fisher) is assigned to anyone trying to fish for the first time.

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