In the second chapter of ‘Redcliff’ young Joe Parable, wanting to find out about the life of the village to which he has come, pops into ‘The Cat and Canary’ for a quick pint. A local fisherman, James Blaker, tells him about his work.
“As for fishing,” he said, “there’s all sorts and some be good fun – like seining for salmon in the estuary – and some be infernal hard work, like going to sea in bad weather. We fish with hooks and lines, with drift nets and with trawls according to what we’re after. Drift nets be for herring and sprat only and trawl nets for the bottom. We catch dabs and plaice and ray and brill and soles in them – ground fish. Mackerel, which we’re after now, we catch with hook and line on a bobbin pale. Then, when we’re after salmon in the tidal waters, our net is a heavier mesh and stronger than herring net. That’s the fishing I like, though it’s harder work than just sailing with your lines running astern.”
‘Redcliff’ is Eden Phillpotts' name for Lympstone and the above is an example of his writing at its most journalistic. In the year 1922 he literally did wander around the village with a notebook and pencil and put people into his books.
But what was a 'bobbin pale'?