Fishing in a male dominated world - Margaret Owen

Semi-retired Margaret Owen, née Gregory, moved to Morecambe Bay in 1957 from Manchester aged five.

In 1981 she and her husband, Trevor, bought a small cottage at Sunderland Point. It was he who introduced Margaret to fishing.

Challenging tradition

In a male-dominated world, Margaret faced a fierce campaign to stop her from working the water, with a concerned wife telephoning to ask if she was wearing a swimming costume out on the boat. Myths of hell and monsters below the lighthouse, and talk of the ‘mystery’ to the art of fishing, were wearing.

Donning a fisherman’s uniform of chest waders with fluffy suit underneath, Margaret challenged tradition. On one occasion she almost drowned and after being hauled to safety she came too on the back of a tractor. Such incidents were commonplace at Sunderland Point back then.

Competition to the old fishing ways came in various forms. Before stricter licensing ten-to-fifteen-years-ago, want-to-be fishermen had targeted cockles and mussels. Warmer water, meanwhile, attracts salmon-loving seals.

Night fishing

Night-fishing remains Margaret’s favourite. Wearing modern warm clothing and a life-jacket she stands in tranquillity. Ducks and otters circle. On moon-lit nights seaweed reflects a green hue which illuminates the nets, warning the fish away. She longs for darkness that cloud cover brings.

A tight-knit community

Amongst the close knit fishing community of Sunderland Point, anonymity is possible as privacy is respected, while friendship is offered, and problems are shared.  A fisherman’s choir regularly performs and Margaret’s husband is in a band. Now their daughter has left home their cottage has a music room.

Retired fisherman look-back with fondness to the old days but accept change with warmth and humour. Margaret has earned their respect. Old-timer John Smith has hinted that fishing is so engrained in her that if her husband moved during sleep she would club him like he was a salmon!


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