The Lyall family are the oldest fishing family in East Haven and have been traced back to the 1750s. Craig Lyall is the last remaining part fisherman in the village. Craig and his fiancée Christina will become the first fisher couple to ever
marry in the village itself. They will take their vows amongst the boats near the beach on 23rd August 2014.
Alex Lyall was educated at Panbride Primary, and was a Salmon Fisher all his life,
only breaking during his 1st World War service in the Royal Scots Guard. Alex worked several local salmon stations, namely, Elliot, Lunan Bay, Kirkside and Westhaven. He was Skipper of the East Haven Salmon Fishing Station operated by the Tay Salmon Fishing
Company from 1934 to 1938. As Salmon fishing was seasonal, Alex had to work on the land during the winter months, and this was done at Inverpeffer or Peffer, as it is known locally.
Salmon fishing was hard work, it still is, but modern methods
make life easier. However, Salmon netting is declining at an alarming rate, and the future is bleak for this way of life. During the years that Alex fished, everything was done manually and was extremely hard work. The crew of a salmon coble was five. The
coble had to be rowed, there were no engines in these days and they fished seven nets, three at the Trink, one at the Meg Stane and three at Duncan’s Den. If they fished the West side, it would be three at the Stock Mire, three at the Bleachin,
and one at the Brithers. At the weekend when the leaders had to be cleaned the crew got to go home and it was the job of Alex as Skipper to clean and store them ready for Monday morning. As the skipper, Alex was always the last man to be laid off at the end
of the season. He mended and then stored all the nets in the old salmon bothy. Alex was a clever man; he could peg out on the ground the area for the salmon net and make a complete net from scratch.
Working the Fly nets was probably the hardest job.
These nets were staked on the beach. Putting these nets up was demanding work and every pin and stake had to be hand driven into the sand using a gurl.
A gurl was a 4 foot long post with a point and had a steel cap to stop it breaking. You had to twist
this using your weight back and forward to force it into the sand. Then, when you had the right depth, pull out the gurl and have another man ready with the pin or stake to drive it right into the hole before the hole filled up. When the nets were first up,
one tide could see them flat, all to be done again.
The fly nets were worked at Carnoustie. The first net was down from the Station, then across the Barry Burn there were three, two nets just past the red flag and the last net and always the best was
right round past the light house. Alex being the skipper took the best net, which was the farthest away. He would walk all the way from the Ha’en or sometimes used an old bike.
When there were fish to transport, there was a contract with Robinson
the contractor, and Alex had to walk from the nets back into Carnoustie and come back with Robinson’s Horse and Cart.
Alex’s cousin Wull Vannet worked at the boddin near Montrose and if you compare the fishing with East Haven, using the
fish money received at the end of the season, which related to fish caught. Wull Vannet would have £30 fish money and Alex Lyall was lucky to receive £6 fish money. The boddin was a good station and was still taking a good catch up to the 1990’s.
Fish caught would be in the thousands where East Haven would be in the Hundreds. East Haven was always a poor station. Craig Lyall
GEORGE LYALL SNR. (UNCLE GEORDIE)
Uncle Geordie was a clever man and
made willow baskets from willow wands cut from local trees; boats in bottles; a boat in a box with a frame; lots of needles for making nets; and he made sails and full rigging for a boat that was owned by a gentleman in the Villas.
Alex Lyall also made
needles for making nets; woodcarving was a pastime many Fishermen would do, as there was no TV or wireless.
Uncle Geordie also had a tame Jackdaw. The Jackdaw would go to the sea with him but when it was fed up would fly home, go down the lum and sit
on the sway. The Jackdaw liked silver things and would pinch anything silver. There was an artist painting on the braes and the Jackdaw pinched the brushes because parts of them were bright and silvery.
Uncle Geordie once caught a very large lobster
around the Dulse Craig. It was at a time when ships had been sunk in the Orkney Islands and were being towed down the coast. It was thought that there must have been fish and shellfish living inside these wrecks which had fallen out during the move. The lobster
was a monster of 14 pounds in weight. Craig Lyall
John Lyall was very strict about Sunday. The Sabbath day being a day of rest and he would not allow anyone to read papers, or do any sort
of household chores. As poor as the fishermen were they still put on their Sunday best and went to church (they only had one suit). When John Lyall had had a drink he used to come up the pend singing “Bonny Mary O’ Argyle”.