Stake-Net fishing is an ancient and once popular method of salmon fishing on the Solway Firth. Nets were strung between poles that stretched out into the estuary. It is thought, by some, that this is an even more ancient form of fishing than “Haaf Netting”, which is of Norse descent. I like to think that stake-nets may have been seen and caught the imagination of the Norsemen as they occupied this part of South West Scotland.
Stake-Lines This string of stakes sticking out of solway sand, they are like the ribs, of some great leviathan, that, having spawned, beached itself and died, out of empathy perhaps, with the salmon that its skeleton now traps. If I stand here very still, and use an auditory knife to cleanse this carcass of unwanted flesh, I am left with the harsh death rattle of the wind as it scrapes past sinewed rope, and the flip-flapping of the seaweed that clings like dry, dead skin.
Stake Nets These stake nets; stitch the sands to the sky, knit the present to the past, join the horizon to where we stand. These stake nets; are slowly parting as years stretch the thread, unpicking our story, leaving us divided… …leaving us behind.
Solway Stakenets Waves curl like commas around stakes that stand stark as runes against a vellum sky. Above the murmur of the Solway rise the chants of the Norsemen as they ride the white horses.
Our History Our history, tidal as the Solway, is washed up on these bays and estuaries. A library that requires only our time and inclination to pause and browse. Scattered here and there, revealed at low tide, the nets and poles of stake-nets, are the webs and spines of old books, and the rush of the sea seems but the ruffle of our pages. Derek Ross