Document 665

Dipper: 53 - Tam Lowrie's Muckle Fish

Author(s): John Reid

Copyright holder(s): John Reid


At crack o dawn ae Lammas day,
The mornin sky juist growin grey,
Tam Lowrie steiked his cottage door
An set oot on his favorite splore.
For Tam had aye the fishin fever
- Kenned faur an wide on loch an river
He heeded neither time nor tide,
For fishin he'd lay ocht aside.
Tam was a souter, famed an guid
But whan the troot were in the tid
Baith young an auld micht rin barefuit,
For buits an shuin were left tae sit.
He'd try for troots, or geds or graylin,
But saumon were his special failin
Whan spates cam doun an fish ran up
He'd halt for neither bite nor sup,
An nou, though still a kennin broun,
A "bank tae bank" wis finin doun
An Tam, as usual, had his visions
O muckle saumon up in dizzens.

Tam was a man wha'd never mairried
He'd seen guid fishin plans miscairried
Through girnin wives an ailin weans
- He kept awa frae nuptial chains.
Sae ilka day was aa his ain,
An Tammas steppit oot his lane
Tae try the puil below the linn
Whaur big fish restit frae their rin.
His muckle rod he muntit fast
Wi reel, an line, an horsehair cast,
An, lest he shuid a monster see,
Tied thirty plies next tae the flee.

Aa fishers worthy o the name
Ken weel that feelin in the wame
As oot they throw the day's first cast
Tam's hopes, aye high, were risin fast
He watched his flee move through the puil
An wroucht it roun wi canny skill,
Hingin it ower a weel-kent lie,
Anticipation mountin high.
Anither cast withoot a pluck
Led him tae try a third, for luck,
An shair eneuch, a monstrous tail
Cut through the watter like a sail!

Tam caad upon his Maker's name
Poed bak the rod, the heuk gaed harne,
The saumon turned its muckle heid
An set aff for the sea at speed!
The skreichin reel spewed oot blue reek,
The line becam a hissin streak,
An Tam's brogues on the rocks played clatter
As he tae heidit doun the watter.

Puil efter puil that fish breenged through
While Tammas wiped his streamin broo
An joukit trees an lowpit saughs
An ran, near braithless, doun the haughs.
But, nearin nicht, things slowed a wee.
Tam streekit oot below a tree,
The fish had tired, an lay deep doun,
An syne the pair were sleepin soun.
But Tam was slee, an roun his lug
Had wund the line, sae that a rug
Wad roose him, waukened, ware an willin,
Gin aince the saumon stertit pullin.
The warnin teug cam wi daylicht,
Tam held the rod wi aa his micht,
An sae the twae set aff again,
The fish still pouin like a train.
But syne the strain began tae tell,
Tam's heid was ringin like a bell,
The fish whiles rowed, his tail played slatter
An fearsome swirls broke the watter.

Juist then, Tam saw a welcome sicht -
An auld frien's tractor, braw an bricht,
Clatterin doun a nearby brae,
Weel loadit wi some bales o strae.
Mains o Pittendreich himsel
Was drivin't, an he heard Tam's yell,
Cam doun tae see whit was adae
An syne enlistit in the fray.
Against sic odds, nae fish could win,
At last the tractor drew him in,
Tam cloured him wi a pilin stab,
Then shuik hauns wi his guid frien Rab.

'Dod, Rab,' he gasped, 'that ane's nae minnon!
Withoot your help, he'd still be rinnin.
Nou haun me ower that hedgin knife -
Ye'll tak a cut back tae the wife.'
'Thanks, Tam,' said Rab, but juist the same
Ye'd better keep it, for at hame
We are na fond o fish ava,
An saumon wad be shair tae staw.
But, no tae huff a kindly frien,
Juist let me hae his muckle een.'

'His een!' cried Tam, wi runkled broo,
'Whit mortal uise are they tae you?'
'Man, Tammas,' said the laird o Mains,
'They'll mak me twa graun curlin-stanes!'

Lammas/August 1st
muntit/mounted,set up
haugh/level ground beside a river
pilin stab/fence post

This work is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.


Cite this Document

APA Style:

Dipper: 53 - Tam Lowrie's Muckle Fish. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 21 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Dipper: 53 - Tam Lowrie's Muckle Fish." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 21 July 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Dipper: 53 - Tam Lowrie's Muckle Fish," accessed 21 July 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 665

Dipper: 53 - Tam Lowrie's Muckle Fish


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 1991
Word count 733
General description Anthology of prizewinning and other Scots poems, and short stories in Ayrshire Scots.

Text medium

Other Audiocassette

Text publication details

Publisher Luath Press
Publication year 1991
Place of publication Barr, Ayrshire
ISBN/ISSN 0946487227
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in The Dipper an the Three Wee Deils: Tales and Poems in Ayrshire Scots
Editor Authors: Dr. J. A. Begg and J. Reid
Page numbers 132-134

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 738
Forenames John
Surname Reid
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1910
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired Head Teacher
Place of birth Dalry
Region of birth N Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Lockerbie
Region of residence Dumfries and Galloway
Residence CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Commmercial Traveller
Father's place of birth Dalry
Father's region of birth N Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth Beith
Mother's region of birth N Ayr
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Home, socially
French Yes Yes Yes Yes As necessary
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Home, socially