I found the following piece of information written within an article entitled The Fisher Folk of the Scottish East Coast” in the Aberdeen Journal in October 1862. This summarises a few of the superstitions and shows just how strange and unusual some of them are:
As a class, the fishers are intensely superstitious. For instance, while standing or walking they don’t like to be numbered. Rude boys would sometimes annoy the fishwives by shouting:
“Ane, twa, three; what a lot of fisher nannies I see”.
It is also considered very offensive to ask fisher people, whilst on their way to their boats, where they are going today; and they do not like to see, considering it unlucky, the impression of a very flat foot on the sand; neither can they go to work if on leaving their homes in the morning a pig should cross their path. This is considered a very unlucky omen, and at once drives them home.
Before a storm, it is usually thought, there is some kind of warning vouchsafed to them; they see, in their mind’s eye doubtless, a comrade wafted homeward in a sheet of flame, or the wraithe of someone beckons them with a solemn gesture landward, as if saying, “Go not upon the waters”.
When an accident happens from an open boat, and any person is drowned, the boat is never used again, but is laid up, high and dry, and allowed to rot away – rather a costly superstition. Then, again, some fisher people perform a kind of “rite” before going to the herring fishing, in drinking to a “white lug” – that is, that, when they “pree” or examine a corner or lug of their nets, they might find it glitter with the silvery sheen of the fish, a sure sign of a miraculous draught.