Sunday, 12 December 2010
Death of a Friend
It is with great sadness that I heard this morning of the death of Walter Davidson, salmon net fisherman from the south-west of Scotland and chairman of the Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland which represents the small band of men who still fish for salmon using traditional methods in the rivers and estuaries around the country.
I first encountered Walter in 2003 when I spent time with him at his fishing station at Creetown on the Solway Firth. He was warm and open and generous with his time. I made a series of images of Walter which were subsequently published in the first edition of Coast magazine. Walter would liken my visit to one he received from the legendary photographer Werner Kissling, who had encountered Walter in the early 1960s when travelling around Scotland gathering material for the School of Scottish Studies.
Walter was steeped in the history of salmon netting: his great-grandfather had introduced the practice of using stake nets on the Solway when he relocated from Montrose in the mid-19th century.
I last saw Walter only a month ago in Portsoy at the Association's annual gathering (see previous post). He was full of the gentle, understated humour which was his trademark. In his distinctive Galloway accent he gently chided me about the inclusion on the Association's new website of a photograph I took of the interior of his bothy, where he lived during the week in the fishing season and which showed his washing strung up to dry. I think his slight embarrassment at the scene was tinged with a pride that his life was being documented by someone with an interest in salmon fishing.
Walter's untimely death will leave a void in his family, his local community around Dalbeattie and will be a blow to the Association. My thoughts are with them all.
To see more images from Walter Davidson's fishery, please visit http://colinmcpherson.photoshelter.com/gallery/Scotlands-Salmon-Netsmen-mono/G0000IFcgnV925os/P0000QI4jtfd31nE