Dan The Fish Man

Pursuing the Silver Darlings

Back in 1900 over 50 two-man boats would slip out of Clovelly harbour each evening in pursuit of the herring.They'd return at day-break, their boats filled with thousands of shining, slippery 'silver darlings'. Wives and daughters joined the fishermen on the quay to shake out the nets and to load the catch into deep baskets called mawns. These mawns, packed full of fish, were hauled up the cobbles by donkeys to waiting carts.

Today, the heady days of massive catches are long gone. Here in the seas around Devon we’re delighted to be promoting sustainable, carefully managed fishing, which helps safeguard the livelihoods of fishermen and supports the local economy through environmentally sound means.

The photograph shows me with Stephen Perham, Clovelly fisherman and Harbour Master, shaking out the herrings from our net on the pebbles beside by Crazy Kate's cottage. Stephen fishes much as his dad did before him, using a small picarooner, an open lug-rigged sail boat. It's a tradition I'm proud to still carry on.

It's the last photo, hopefully, in a wonderful new book by a local photographer. He's been putting together a photo documentary on me and my work in and around Devon. The book celebrates my 25 years of fishing, and I'm delighted with it. I'll tell you more about it when I get back from my holiday.