Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Annual Caplin Scull at Middle Cove Beach: Mabel and Gerald Upshall

Caplin on Middle Cove Beach. Photo by Julie Pomeroy.

Guest Blog Post by Julie Pomeroy

When I was on my way to work last Friday I noticed activity on Middle Cove Beach so I stopped in to see if the caplin were rolling. They were not rolling at that time, but there were still some there a few feet back from shore. While I was there I came across this couple, Mabel and Gerald Upshall. Mabel is originally from Bay Roberts and Gerald is from St. John’s. They lived in Toronto for many years but moved back home about 20 years ago and now live in St. John’s. They have been coming to Middle Cove Beach every year since they moved back home to get their feed of Caplin.

Mabel and Gerald Upshall with their caplin. Photo by Julie Pomeroy.

I saw them there about 8:30 that morning, and they were telling me that they missed them rolling in with the tide earlier that morning but they were going to get what they could with their net. Gerald uses a landing net for catching caplin, saying that he doesn’t like using a seine and finds this net easier. They will fry up their catch for lunch and freeze what’s left over for a time when they’re in the mood for caplin later in the year. They will also bring some to her brother who is now 90 years old and not able to get around to get his own anymore.

Mabel told me that she separates the spawny ones from the regular ones. She can’t stand to eat the spawny ones, but her husband Gerald likes them better. Mabel also told me that she cleans the caplin before she frys them up. She removes the head, tail, and fins and then washes them off. A practice that her father in law once told her ruined them.

They both remember years ago when people commonly put caplin on their potato fields. Do you have any stories about caplin; how you catch them, how you eat them? If so, please contact Lisa at lbmcocmuseum@gmail.com or (709) 726-5272 for a chance to be featured on our blog. Or, drop in for a cup of tea and share your stories for our archival audio recordings.

*Note: contact information has been edited to reflect the 2016 season


  1. I'm from Middle Cove and have been going down for as long as I remember. My dad always used his cast net to catch them. Only way to do it. My husband using his net now and we got a bunch last week for ourselves and anyone else that wanted them. Locals will go down early in the morning (6 or 630) when its not crowded. Dad would put them in the oven with a bit of butter. My father in law smokes and bbqs them. Dad always threw back the females and kept the males as well. You want the females to lay their eggs after all.

    1. My uncle used to make cast nets every year during the winter and sell them when the caplin were in. No trouble to sell what he made.

    2. Thank you for sharing your memories Laurie Roche! There are certainly a lot of different ways to catch and cook caplin, we love hearing all the stories. How do you prefer to eat them?