While looking at the local fishing industry, we have profiled one fisherman, Michael "Pip" Farline. Pip embodies the characters of the people involved in fishing in Filey having gone to sea since before he left school and has continued fishing since them acquiring vast experience as a seaman. His family are registered as fishermen in the Census of the 1800's and it is likely that his forebears reach back into the very beginnings of the fishing community at Filey. He has agreed to be featured here in fileybay and describe his work as a fisherman and how it has changed over the recent years.
Pip is the embodiment of the tough, independent East Coast fishermen who have earned their living from the sea in the face of adversity and his fishing career epitomises the fragile nature of his work and reflects the decline of the fishing industry as a whole. Pip answers to no one but despite this, harbours a deep feeling of commitment to his town and its heritage and his wish is to keep at sea and to see the "fishing" passed on to the next generation. As a crew member of the Filey Lifeboat, he was awarded the Royal National Lifeboat's Bronze Medal for Gallantry in 2004.
You will recognise one of his cobles in the banners that appear on some of the pages of this site.
He started fishing in 1977 in his spare time whilst at school with Matt Haxby in the double ended fishing boat Janet and Carol crab and lobster potting and trammel net (gill net) fishing at Filey. A trammel net is shot away from the boat and it is anchored close to the sea bottom where it catches the fish. Pip stayed with Mat until the winter of 1979 when he left school.
In 1979 he recalls, the cobles were catching about 100 to 150 stones of fish a day with an average of 80 stones per day, these brought between £4.00 to £6.00 a stone of fish. The salmoning was very good and potting was good with 50 to 90 lobsters a day taken at £2.50 per pound being paid for them.
He then went fishing full time with Richard Buchanan in the coble Katherin and Sarah, this time he fished for salmon as well as crab and lobster potting and long line fishing for cod. Salmon fishing entails long hours at the net anchored off the shore and in the summer he was at sea for extended days at a time tending the net in the Bay and his meals were brought off to him. Winter fishing for cod with long lines at Filey was no picnic, the boats went off to sea in the small hours of the morning sometimes in poor sea conditions and very cold weather. A long line was approximately ,,,,,long and several were carried and owned by each crewman and these were fastened together to make one long line (hence the name) as they were shot away over the side of the boat. When they were all shot the end of the line was anchored. After a while "tiding" or waiting for the line to fish, the coble went to the start point and started to haul the line and took the fish inboard.
This work continued until the winter of 1983 when he went fishing with Robbie Harrison and Paul Gage in the coble Opportunity, he also joined the lifeboat crew at this time. In the winter of 1984 there was a good fishing or "big winter" off "Cowlam" (Burniston Lookout) with between 100 and 150 and two 200 stone catches of fish being taken in one shot. the largest shot was 234 stone and the price they brought was about the same - between £4.00 and £6.00 a stone. Potting was about the same but there were more crabs caught.
In the summer of 1984 until 1986 he went back with Richard Buchanan until 1985 when he got his own salmon licence to fish for salmon in the Bay.
In 1986 until 1987 he fished with Keith Crawford in the coble Gemini (ex Alison and Adrian) line fishing, potting and salmoning and then in 1997 he bought his own twenty one foot coble which he named Our Mitzi after his collie dog. He continued potting and netting until 1999 when he sold Our Mitzi to Dunbar and bought Jane Marie registration WY 337. In 1986 long lining was still good but the average catch was falling to between 70 and 90 stone with the same prices and potting remained the same. The fishing finished for Christmas week in 1986 with the last shot taking 130 stone, two weeks later a shot in the same place took only four fish and some plaice and after five or six shots they all packed in for the winter
Following this there was a period of seven years in which only 30 to 50 stone of fish were taken per shot and the prices remained the same. On the seventh year when they started line fishing they took an average of 100 to 150 stone per shot with big fish, a shot in Cayton Bay took 98 fish weighing a total of 130 stone. After this it all went downhill resulting in no more long lining at Filey.
In the 1990's trammel net fishing took between 10 to 15 stone of fish out of 24 nets shot which took three days to clean and when this was completed there were 26 stones of crab claws which equated to a large number of crabs being killed by this method of fishing. Netting finished in about 1995 and potting was slowly getting better as there were no cod to eat the young "fry" lobsters.
In the early 1990's there was some restocking of lobsters by a University on the rocky outcrop on Filey Brigg known as Spittal rocks and in about 1999 a market for the velvet swimming crab developed with local fishermen changing their methods to match this new business.
In 1999 Pip sold Our Mitzi and bought the Sulvera which he renamed Our Mitzi again. Working from Scarborough in this boat he started line fishing for a while but this had become uneconomical due to the decline of the cod and he continued with potting. for three months and then returned to Filey. His latest boat Morning Tide which he bought from Redcar is now on the Coble Landing at Filey.
Pip launches and recovers the local boats by tractor and he is a regular feature on Filey's Coble Landing. His frequent appearances with his dogs at Baker's Tea Stall on the Landing have been known to be the highlight of many a visitor's day in Filey.
Pip with the crew of the St Mary's Lifeboat who received separate awards for their own rescue at the ceremony in London