A haaf net is a wooden frame made from a beam 16 feet long with a 5 feet tall stick at both ends (end-sticks) and a 6.5 feet tall stick in the centre (mid-stick). Onto the outside of the frame is tied a net.
Haaf netting is specific to the inner Solway and dates back to at least the Viking times. The word ‘Haaf’ is Old Norse for ‘channel’ or ‘the sea’. Folklore suggests the length of the haaf beam was based on the length o the Viking longboat oar but there is no proof of this.
The haaf net is carried out over the sands to fish in the later stages of the ebb and the first of the flood tide. Unlike most other forms of netting, the haaf net is manned continuously. The fisher stands in the middle, holding the beam against the current and holding the net. The flow of the water makes a bag of net either side for the fish to swim into. If a fish is felt (a tug), the haaf has to be lifted quickly to prevent the fish swimming away. Fish can be retained, or released, in seconds completely unharmed.
An ageing and diminishing number of local netters still carry on the unique practice of haaf netting. The season starts on 1st May and ends on 9th September. Depending upon the weather, time of tides and suitability of ground, haaf netters may be seen out in the channel during this period. Fishing does not take place on the Scottish side over weekends.
Are you interested in taking up a licence? Find out more and APPLY HERE
Are you interested in taking up a Haaf Net Licence? Find out more and APPLY HERE
Project funded by: