One for the pot

Date published: 11 February 2018

Discovering and harvesting the rich culinary pickings along Scotland’s coastline makes for endlessly fascinating fun and catching sea-life for the pot is an intimate way to connect with the sea.

Nothing beats the excitement of that tug on the fishing line - what have you hooked?  Enter our favourite, the mackerel.  From June to September, Scottish waters teem with this most underrated of fish.  Moonshadow is equipped with a couple of hand lines, rigged with multiple feathered or shiny mackerel lures, which are gently jigged up and down.  Mackerel feed in big shoals, so more often than not we pull up several fish at a time.  These are beautiful creatures, with sleek, torpedo-shaped bodies and smooth, scale-free skin marked with flashes of green, blue and silver.  The flesh is firm, rich and oily - delicious cooked simply with butter, lemon and parsley or turned into a pate or dip. There is a simple pleasure in catching something yourself, preparing it, and then eating it just a short time later at its freshest and best.

The real favourite with our guests, however, is the ceremonial laying of the lobster pots (or creels), which usually takes place before we anchor for the evening.  With two creels on board, a spot of healthy rivalry soon develops between the Lads and the Lassies.  We bait our creels with mackerel (or any other fishy bits) then after much studying of the chart to check the seabed, each "team" chooses the best spot to drop.  There is a theory that, thanks to their pheromones, women make better anglers than men, so the girls liberally apply "their own special something" to their pot, though whether this gives them the edge when it comes to catching crustaceans - the jury is still out!

Next morning, anticipation is high as the creels are hauled on board and the volume of excitement usually indicates the size and quality of the catch.  It’s easy to get carried away when lifting a pot crawling with crustaceans so, having measured them to check they meet MLS (minimum landing size), we keep only what we will use that day.  We have enjoyed some magnificent catches over the seasons, ranging from velvet swimming crabs, distinctive with their menacing red eyes and furry coating, to a quite ferocious dogfish, as well as langoustines, numerous huge edible brown crabs and yes, even a lobster or two!

By Pauline Taylor

Moonshadow Yacht Charter Ltd