Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Harvesting the Salmon

August 5th, 2006

THE PULLAR family who own and operate the salmon netting station at Usan, just south of Montrose, go out twice a day in their traditional salmon cobles to harvest the salmon from the bag nets, which are set in deep water just off the rocky shore between Fishtown of Usan and Ethiehaven. It's an ancient method of fishing which has changed little in its essential methods over several centuries, although nets and ropes are now manufactured from polypropylene and other man-made fibres.

There's something of a family dynasty at Usan. Grandfather David, sons George and David junior, and grandsons John and Kevin are all involved in the business. I phoned to see if they would take two passengers, our own grandson James and myself, out with them to watch them empty the nets. It would be a story for James to tell his friends when he gets back to school, as none of them are likely to have had a similar experience.

We were on the beach, on a lovely calm evening, at eight o'clock sharp, as instructed. It was a pleasure to see James's excitement as we motored down to the first net to be emptied at the head of Lunan Bay.

The coble is brought alongside the submerged net and the  bag', which the salmon have swum into, is hauled on board. A rope fastener is pulled which opens the  door' and the salmon fall into the boat and are quickly despatched. The door is tied up again and the net dropped back into the water to await the next catch on the next tide.

It's not a job for the fainthearted. The working hours are frequently unsocial. Sometimes bad weather prevents the fishermen getting out to the nets. And this year they are plagued with jelly fish; the big reddy-brown ones that you'll see stranded on the beach, waiting for the tide to come in and take them out to sea again.

The jellyfish swim into the nets and fall into the boat along with the salmon. As the fish flap around in the boat they throw up pieces of stinging jelly fish tentacles and you need to protect your face and eyes – or suffer!

One hundred salmon and grilse (smaller salmon weighing up to about six pounds) were landed that evening. They were graded and packed with ice into boxes. Within hours they were on their way to the London market.

James got three sea bass, which had also found their way into the nets, to take home for his grandmother's tea. Until recently these fish were found primarily in the southern waters of the UK. With the increase in summer temperatures of the North Sea due to climate change and global warming they are now a quarry fish for the sea anglers – but not for the salmon netsmen.

Written on Saturday, August 5th, 2006 at 11:30 am for Weekly.