Monkfish, sole, turbot and John Dory are the valuable species that beam trawler Sam of Ladram searches for in waters off the South-West, and skipper John Joll and his crew aim to see a good selection of different species in the fishroom at the end of a trip. This includes species such as gurnards and pouts as well as the higher-value species, as buyers on the auction also want to see a variety.

Sam of Ladram works sets of ten metre beam trawl gear with the usual stone mats, tailored for the grounds and the time of year. For part of the year the gear is rigged with flip-ups for working stonier ground, to keep rocks from ending up in the trawls, and these are taken out for fishing cleaner areas. The trawls are made with 300mm mesh in the back square, then 180mm in the head and go down to 150mm in the bellies, to ensure that juvenile fish and benthos are filtered out.

The crew of six rotate so one is ashore every trip. Sam of Ladram fishes from home grounds off Brixham out to Jersey and towards the Lizard.


Method: Beam Trawler
Call Sign: MKGB5
Registered Port: Brixham
Home Port: Brixham
Port Letters: BM188
Overall Length: 26.2m
Breadth: 7m
Year Of Build: 1970
Country Of Build: Holland
Date Of Service:   17/10/1988
Skipper: John John
Crew Size: 6
Area Fished: Area 7 / SW Approaches
Fish Caught: Dover Sole, Plaice, Monkfish, Gurnard, Ray, Pout, Cuttlefish. other mixed fish

Sam of Ladram doesn’t have the look of a trawler with more than forty years of work behind it. Built in Holland in 1970, it measures 26.20 metre in length with a 7 metre beam and came to the the UK in 1988. It sailed as Lloyd Tyler until it was acquired by Waterdance and given a substantial refit at the Luyt yard in Holland. It emerged with a new main engine, two new generators, the fishroom refitted, the accommodation extended with an enclosed stern that has given the crew more space – and carrying the Sam of Ladram name. The refit has been a new start for a beam trawler with plenty of work behind it, which included bringing together a new crew following the long refit, after which the trawler was back in action at beginning of April 2017.

Skipper: John Joll

Skipper John Joll is known to everyone on the quay as Jon-Jon, a name he says stuck after he was one of four Johns working on the same boat.
‘Every time someone called ’John!’ we all looked round, so we all got an extra name and mine stuck,’ he said.

‘I’ve been doing this for more years than I care to remember. ‘I’ve gone from being the youngest on board to being the oldest,’ he said, adding that between trips he spends time as Dad’s taxi for the family.
He said that Sam of Ladram has fished well since the extensive refit, despite a winter of severe weather.

‘Safety is a big issue. I’m constantly watching all the time looking out for where the crew are on deck, and other vessels,’ he said.

‘It’s quality we’re after, not volume – turbot, monkfish and sole. It pays to catch a bit less and catch the quality. If the fish isn’t the top quality the buyers at the auction want, then we’ll move on – but it’s not always that easy. Turbot and megrim are deeper to the west, but we can’t always work the same places, and that’s why I’m forever searching for fish, trying to do better than the last haul. There’s a determination to always do better, and that’s why I’m always searching,’ he said.

Iimage supplied by Martin Johns