Lave Net fishing is a traditional method of fishing which has been practiced for hundreds of years.The lave net fishermen at Black Rock preserve this tradition as they are the last of their kind in wales.
The tradition of lave net fishing at Black Rock has been past down through the generations, the fishermen all have their roots in the villages of Sudbrook, Portskewett and Caldicot in Monmouthshire.
The fishermen try to keep the fishery as traditional as possible, the lave net is still made in the traditional way. The net has a Y shaped structure consisting of two arms called rimes which are made from locally cut willow (withy) and this acts as a frame for the loosely hung net.
The handle is called the rock staff and is made from ash, the rimes are hinged at the rock staff and are kept in position while fishing with a wooden spreader called the headboard.
The actual netting is still knitted by some of the fishermen using a strip of wood and a needle.
The severn estuary off Black Rock has the second greatest tidal range in the world, this rise and fall of water enables the fishermen at low water spring tides to wade into the estuary and fish.
The fishermen have their own names for areas within the fishing grounds, names such as Monkey Tump, Lighthouse Vear and The Grandstand but are not mentioned on any chart. Fishing takes place on the ebb tide, the fishermen walk out into the estuary nets on shoulder to their traditional fishing grounds, the water is up to their waists, the net is then opened and the rimes locked into the headboard and then lowered into the tide which rushes through the mesh of the net. He stands with one hand on the rock staff ready to push down, the other on the head board fingers in the mesh ready to lift if a fish hits the net.
The fishermen fish in two ways, either standing in a low water channel waiting for a fish to hit the net - this is called cowering or by watching the water for the loom of a fish, then moving to intercept the fish before it reaches deep water.
The lave net fishermen of Black Rock promote the fishery as a heritage site and invite all to enjoy this last remaining welsh severn estuary salmon fishery which can be watched quite safely from the picnic site.