Fisherman's Reel

The Fisher Lass by John McGhie (1867โ€“1952)

Fisherman's Day

Jun 29

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Buttercrunch Day
Chopped Nuts & Chocolate Swirls
Fisherman's Day
Fisherman's Reel
Show More

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"I am a fisherman
Frae driftnet to deep trawl
Whin I left the Sea tae settle down
I couldnae resist its Call
I've lifted prawns an' scallops
An' herrings by the shoal
Cod an' skate an' whitin'
When money was ma goal."

Been out in awe the weathers
Fingers blue wi cold
To seas as high as mountains
An' sun-kissed clouds of gold
Shoals of rainbowed herring
Fin of basking shark
Clouds o' tiny plankton
Seen in our lights so stark"

~ The Fisherman, Jim McRobert, 2003

Fisherfolk historically have been a superstitious lot due to the constant danger of the unforgiving sea. Fishermen up and down the Scottish coasts have traditionally been keen observers of potential omens as they set sail, believing that strict observance was necessary to ensure a safe voyage home. In Lerwick, there is a fisherfolk custom of not mentioning a pig, rabbit, or salmon in conversation, or if so, referencing them only obliquely by colloquialisms. A pig, for example, should strictly only be referenced as a "curly tail" while a rabbit should be referred to as " bob tail," a "fower fitter," or a "mappin." Salmon too have been equally feared as bringers of bad luck and are known as the โ€˜reid fishโ€™. Additionally, if on your way to fish, if you see a minister (or a woman), you should go back home and restart your journey as both (particularly a minister) was seen as extremely bad luck. It has also been suggested that no mention of the church, a minister or a manse should be made on a fishing boat, particularly amongst men working the Moray Firth. Go fish! ๐ŸŽฃ๐ŸŸ

Fisherman's Reel

Scotland's fishing communities have a long history adapting to the hardships of a dangerous life.  Fisher folk of the past acquired a reputation for being superstitious and following particular rituals in the hopes of both increasing the catch and avoiding danger with luck superstitions, including special superstitions about the power of words.


Herring were called "silver darlings" because fishermen believed that if they used the proper name "herrin," the fish would stay away!  For a glossary of Scottish dialect fish names by Robert Watt, issued in 1989, click here


Classic regional and signature seafood dishes include: Finnan-haddie (a cold-smoked haddock) and Arbroath Smokies (another regional smoked haddock),  Cabbie-claw (from the Shetland dialect for young cod), Tweed Kettle (an Edinburgh-based salmon hash),  "blawn fish" (fish hung up to dry in an open passage), and Haggamuggie (a sort of fish haggis).   


See below for a 1920s British Pathรฉ film showing the Scottish Herring Harvest. click the portrait of "A Scottish Fisherman" (19th century, artist unknown).

Fisherman's Reel
Fisherman's Reel

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The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the


Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 


Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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