Fishing has been practised in the Severn estuary for several centuries, probably at least the 5th or 6th. The Domesday book recorded sixty three fisheries in Tidenham in 1086, but none now remain.
The catch was salmon in the main, though the Severn is also well known for eels, and elvers are a new delicacy though local people enjoyed them for years before they were ‘discovered’ by popular restaurants.
The Beachley Bay putcher rank above in 1981 and below the same rank in 2013.
Salmon fishing took the form of putcher rank fishing, stop boats and lave nets on the sand banks.
In 1911 several of the fishermen living in the parish had come to live in this area from Morcambe to work for the Wye Fisheries Board, the pictire below may show some of those men.
One hundred years ago in 1917 when the villagers of Beachley were evicted there were still several fishermen living at Beachley Green. and the row of cottages at Buttingtom were built to house them so that they could easily access their boats and putchers.
Up until the 1980s there was still some fishing, a putcher rank in Beachley bay was in operation until about that time, some lave net fishing was still being done on the sandbanks by a lone fisherman.
Putchers were conical shaped baskets which were traditionally made from hazel or willow, those that are used on the last remaining rank today further up the river are made of steel. The putchers were placed in ranks in order to catch the salmon as they returned to the sea.
Lave nets are Y shaped baskets which are used to trap the fish, the men would wait on the sandbanks until a fish was close enough to catch. The only lave net fishing still being done is at Black Rock a few miles downstream. The limitations on the catches mean that this is no longer a viable occupation and the Blackrock fishermen now operate as a heritage centre to keep this ancient tradition alive.
The lave net men caught an 18lb salmon on Wednesday 21st June 2017 the largest fish they had caught for many years and only the second fish in five years for Paul who netted it, he also claimed the Bob Leonard Cup for the first fish of the season.
Above some of the Beachley lave net fishermen from the early 20th century.