A St Ives Fisherman; Stuart Clary-Brom.
We are in July, the town is getting really busy so I went out to sea “lobster potting” with a local fisherman Stuart Clary-Brom and his son. We were around the rough coast from Zennor to Gurnard’s head. We caught a few lobsters, spider crabs and brown crabs. But the most interesting was the link Stuart have with its beautiful, yet unforgivable, landscape. He has fish here for 27 years and still doesn’t know how to swim – his son does (and particularly well). He looks after his lobster and wildlife and never keep female lobster/crab.
Commissioned by St Ives Holidays
About Stuart Clary-Brom:
Fisherman Stuart Clary-Brom is standing on his small black and yellow fishing boat, holding his line over the side – but so far he isn’t getting many bites. Mackerel fishing is a patient game, he says. Stuart fishes from St Ives in Cornwall, helping supply Morrisons with fresh mackerel – last year that was some 350,000 fish.
Suddenly there’s a yank on the line; Stuart tugs it upwards and, with a practised move, flicks a dozen mackerel into the boat. The fish are thrown straight in the ice box and Stuart’s line goes back into the sea. We’re in business.
While holidaymakers are tucked up in bed, Stuart and his fellow fishermen are heading out to sea. From April to October they fish close to shore. The fish feed at dawn and dusk, so Stuart returns to shore late morning, then heads out again later. There’s not much, just the fishing line, which has 30 hooks baited only with bright red feathers, an ice box and his ‘fish finder’. This sat nav-style gadget indicates when the fish are nearby. After that it’s down to know-how… and patience.
After two hours of waiting then baiting, Stuart turns the boat round and heads back to St Ives harbour, his ice box full of glistening mackerel with their distinctive silvery-blue skins and dark stripes. A couple of dolphins swim up alongside the boat and Stuart reveals spotting dolphins around the ragged Cornish shoreline is pretty common these days. Less welcome are the seals, who chase the mackerel. ‘Seals have cost me up to £300 a day – if they’re pestering you, you can’t make them move,’ he says. But that’s a small irritation compared to the perks of the job: ‘It’s peaceful and you can go anywhere you want to fish. There’s nothing better than when the water’s flat.’
Fisherman Stuart catches his mackerel with traditional hand lines. He left school at 15 and learnt the fishing trade from his father, working for him for 26 years. Two years ago he branched out on his own. He has always fished with a line rather than nets. ‘It’s the way I’ve been taught to fish,’ he says. ‘It’s nice to be part of a tradition.’
There are other traditions – or should we say superstitions. Stuart, a chatty father of four, says in all seriousness that ‘you can’t eat pasties on the boat’. And he always puts red feathers on his line, not just because you can spot them in the water
, but also because ‘if something works for you, you stick to it’.