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Piltock lines

Piltocks, or saithe, have played an important part in the lives of Shetlanders for centuries.

Commonly salted and hung up to dry, they provided a vital source of sustenance in times of food shortage.

Here Mina Ward shares her memories of catching piltocks with her father in the South Mainland in the 1950s.

These are piltocks drying on the clothes line at my family home in Quendale.

After school most nights in the summer my dad and I walked about a mile to the shore at Outra, out past Quendale farm, where he had a rowing boat. He taught me to row at an early age.

Then it was hand line fishing; great fun and plenty of fish were always caught. Magic on a bonny summer night, but I guess it kept us in plenty of fresh food and the surplus was salted and dried and stored on the loft. He did sell some of the surplus to a shop on the street in Lerwick, but I cannot remember the name.

Summers seemed to be better weather then and there was always an abundance of piltocks, unless on the nights when the basking sharks were around, as they were from time to time then-a-days.