Superstition, Fly-Fishing, and Fish and Chip Suppers

Do not mention pork or rabbits or a squall will surely strike. Always bring salt on the boat. A match offered to another fisherman to light a cigarette must be broken in half. Mentioning the local vicar means a stormy voyage. Scotland is a seafaring nation, and its fishermen are part of the country’s cultural center.

Younger generations may not pay heed to as many superstitions about the sea like those who traverse choppy waters to fish the sea’s depths, but people born and raised in Scotland have the sea in their blood. Stories abound, both tall tales and truthful yarns, in fishing villages and in a community’s pubs. Buy an old man of the sea a dram and a story might unfold.

The sea forms Scotland’s national character, but ocean fishing is not the only way to cast a line. Fly-fishing, salmon and trout fishing, and angling is viewed by some as a national occupation, second only to golf. With over six thousand lochs and rivers, if you have a yen to catch your dinner, Scotland is the place for travel. Scotland’s reputation for fishing expeditions and holidays dates back to the 19th century. Wealthy English tourists made fishing in Scotland fashionable. With largely pristine waters and landscape that enraptures visitors Scotland continues to be a mecca for the avid fishermen and women.

Fish and chips shops are more common in Scotland than a neighbourhood grocery store and in some communities, more plentiful than the pubs, and while the commonality of fish and chips binds the United Kingdom together as a national culture, in Scotland many fish and chips shops in the past were owned and operated by Italians. The historical wave of immigration from Italy to Scotland toward the end of the nineteenth century contributed to this trend when newly arrived people found work in the chip shops.

Many Scottish shops remain Italian-owned complete with names that sound more like the menu should offer pasta rather than fish and chips.

Whether travellers love to be seduced by fishermen tales and superstitions, aim to catch a salmon, or simply enjoy a plate of greasy fish and chips with salt, vinegar, and sauce, Scotland offers everyone an opportunity to enjoy a little bit of the sea.