Each fishery had a shiel, or hut providing accommodation for the fishermen and gear during the season.
Some shiels have wooden platforms, or “fording boxes” attached to one end, from which a man would keep watch for salmon coming upstream. The salmon were kept cool and fresh in a “fish-house” dug into the earth in the river-bank beside the shiel until they were taken to the fish-merchants in Berwick.
The rowing boats used by the salmon fishermen are called “cobles”. They are smaller versions of the vessels used by the fishermen on the coast.
Since the Tweed Act of 1857, only one method of netting for salmon has been allowed on the Tweed. This is known as “wear shot netting”, which involves the coble being rowed out into the stream in a semi-circle, shooting the net from the stern. The boat then returns to the river-bank as the other members of the crew haul in the net and catch.
The importance of salmon fishing to the communities on the Tweed was symbolised by a custom that took place at the opening of the Tweed salmon netting season, at midnight on 14th February each year, when the Vicar of Norham blessed the nets at the Pedwell Fishery and led the fishermen in the Pedwell Prayer:
Good Lord, lead us,
Good Lord, speed us,
From all perils protect us,
In the darkness direct us,
Give us, Good Lord,
Finest nights to land our fish,
Sound and big to fill our wish,
Keep our nets from snag or break,
For every man a goodly take. Amen.
By tradition, the vicar was presented with the first catch. The custom ended when the Fishery closed in 1987.