16th Century Fishing
The following excerpts are from Samuel Eliot Morison's 1971, The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages.  (pg. 473-477).
In general, there were two methods of codfishing in American waters, the "wet" or "green," and the "dry." Spaniards, Portuguese, and Frenchmen on the Bay of Biscay, having plentiful and cheap supply of salt from the salt-pans of the Aunis, Cadiz, the Gironde, and the Algarve, made a practice of heavily salting their catch on the Grand Bank, sailing directly home, and curing the baccalaos ashore. English and Irish fishermen, having to import salt (their own climate being too cool and foggy for the sun to evaporate it from seawater), found it more profitable to pursue dry fishing. Normans and Bretons had plenty of cheap salt and pursued both kinds of fishing.
For dry fishing, the vessel brought out double crews, one to fish and one to work ashore. In order to be first in the chosen harbor or "tickle" of Newfoundland, French and English fishing vessels sometimes braved the winter gales in order to be the "admiral" or commander of others who arrived later, but there was no use arriving before May when the capelin swarmed inshore and the cod followed them. From the time the ship anchored, her crew was never idle. After mooring her well, and harbor-furling her sails, barrels were lashed along the topsides, and a mariner in each barrel started pulling in codfish and throwing them on deck to be gutted. Most of the fishing, however, was done from the fleet of small boats-shallops, or chaloupes- that each ship brought out, hauling in the fish by handline. Each ship carried an average of seven shallops with five men for each, and each shallop's crew expected to fill her to the gunwales with cod by noon.
The shore crew, in the meantime, felled trees and put up a fish stage (chaufaud), a wharf projecting into the harbor, onto which the fishermen threw the codfish from the boats, to be gutted and split. Most important, on the rocky shore behind this wharf were built the flakes (vignots). These were platforms of brush and small boughs raised some three feet above the ground, on which the cod were cured. Each fish had to be washed, split, and slack (lightly) salted; it was then spread on the flakes for a series of exposures to the sun. The French used no fewer than ten soleils, in which the fish were shifted about or stacked in different patterns.
Every night and in foggy or rainy weather, the split fish had to be covered with wood or sailcloth; and even in Newfoundland, upon occasion, they had to be protected from too hot a sun. This went on for several weeks, after which the fish were left, insides up, for several days before being pronounced cured. They were then stored in a shed, which the fishermen called a "tilt." The final sun-cured codfish, called stockfish or poor-John in English, morue in French, baccalao in Spanish-hard, stiff, and almost indestructible - became a delicious, savory morsel when soaked out and properly cooked. Try a dish of baccalaos vizcaina or one of the hundred other ways the Portuguese cook salt cod, and you will understand why the Banks fisheries were so important to that country, and still are. Don't be put off by the favorite Newfoundland method of frying it in cheap grease!
The "wet" or "green" fishermen from France and the Iberian peninsula mostly frequented the Grand Bank as the nearest to home; they knew when they had arrived there, not only by the sudden shoaling of the water from hundreds of fathom to sixty, forty, and twenty-five, but by the flocks of birds which came out from land to get their share of the fish.  As described by Lescarbot early in the following century, wet fishing was all done with hook, three-pound sinker, and twenty- to twenty-five-fathom line.  The gutted fish were thrown into barrels with a liberal supply of salt between layers; and "in this way they work continuously," at anchor, "for the space of abut three months, with sails down, until the fare is complete."  Incredible as it may seem, the fishermen of Brittany, Normandy, and Saintonge often sailed from Rouen, Dieppe, Saint-Malo, or La Rochelle as early as January or February, braving the winter westerlies; they brought home a full fare of fish in April or May, and after landing them to be cured on shore, sailed again to the Grand Bank with a fresh load of salt, returning not later than October.  It was not only a tough voyage to reach the Grand Bank; it was a bad place to spend your time at any season.  The ocean swells are enhanced by the shoal water, and there is absolutely no shelter.  In a steamer I once passed through the French Terre-Neuve fleet on a relatively calm day in June 1900. The little schooners and brigs, no bigger than those of the sixteenth century, were all at anchor, rolling scuppers-under and pitching bows-under.
Also see our excerpts from Morison in the General History: Contemporary Sources bibliography, Norumbega Reconsidered bibliography and Ancient Pemaquid essays.  Additionally, we have an information file of quotes from Morison on David Ingram's trek through Maine from the gulf coast and the role he played in the evolution of the myth of Norumbega.