Max Zwicker: Fishing

Home » Island History » Personal Stories » Max Zwicker: Fishing

Max tells about drying fish

My uncle, where Tim Johnson lives there, Uncle Howard, he was the main saltin’ man for saltin’ the fish down. Now at times he worked… We had one… I remember my father saying a Hamm man, George Hamm from Oakland, a hundred quintals of fish one day he hauled the backbones out of that many fish. Pa said he had wrists on him like a fence stake, they were that big. Yes, very strong in the hands. Them big steak cods they had quite a back bone into them. On the vessels you had a man which was called a “flunkie.” He looked after the tongues and the sounds and the cheeks in the fish. You had a man called “throater.” He split the fish and took the stomach out, saved the liver and that went into oil, the liver. That fish was all ready then for the splitter to take the back bone out. And then from there on, it went down in the hold of the ship and then it was salted. And it was salted, like I told you, head and tails the way they laid and built it up.

Then, they most generally did that on the Grand Banks – the 3-month trip in the summer time. And they watched, ’cause there were no engines sometimes, just plain sail, and they watched when the wind was the right way, easterly or westerly, to come on the journey up. And that’s when they struck. And there was no more tackin’ or anything – just straight through. And a swampin’ load with 3,000 quintals. Boy, the vessels was down in the water, yeah, quite deep.”

Max talks about lobster fishing at Indian Point

“See this [Indian Point] wharf had been renewed in 1954. The old one that was there, it had a beautiful slipway on the eastern side. Oh, a beautiful spot… a nice walk up, wide… and that’s where the girls used to swim off of that. And then it had great big spiles, logs that were cruded up about three or four feet all around the wharf for tying up to when you wanted to come in. And then it was built with keys into it [openings]. And when I was lobstering, in them places, with my dory, I’d go in them keys and set lobster pots. You should have seen the lobsters. That was from the original old log. Now with this creosoted stuff you get creosote in the lobster if you ate one from there. And they’ll still be lobsters underneath that wharf here, ’cause I know of some fellas that got them and tasted them. The creosote was right in the meat.”

from: Zwicker M. Indian Point Remembered (2004) (DVD #1)

Do you care about the islands of Mahone Bay like we do? Get involved!