Voyaging Thru Time: Photographs from Penobscot Marine Museum, Part 10

January 9, 2018

Avatar Maynard Bray

This Guide Post shows methods of harvesting fish: fin fish and shrimp with nets; oysters with tongs and dredges. These images are but a small sample of what’s available in Penobscot Marine Museum’s National Fisherman collection.

—————–Kevin Johnson, Photo Archivist, Penobscot Marine Museum.



Fishing with nets. In 1954, before big purse seiners started scooping up fish at sea, you could catch herring simply by running seine twine across the mouth of a cove after a school of fish had swum into it—always at night. The twine back then was mostly cotton, and when not in use, had to be flaked down and thoroughly salted to keep it from rotting. Stop seining required lots of manpower, but its overhead was low, consisting mostly of twine and a dory or two. (LB2012.15.4354 from National Fisherman July, 1954)


After the herring are trapped in a stop seine or weir, the fishermen run out a pocket off to the side in deeper water so that a purse seine can be used inside it to surround the fish and gather them up for loading. A purse seine’s lower edge can be puckered together and closed up, leaving the fish no way to escape. Here, a sardine carrier lies alongside the pocket while the fish (concentrated within the purse seine) are pumped out. (LB2012.15.6069)


As fishing methods evolved , big seiners like this one could handle their own nets and no longer depended on dories to stow them in. Synthetic instead of cotton twine meant no salting. A big, hydraulically-driven power block hangs out of sight from this seiner’s mast and brings in the net faster than by hand and with fewer crew. (LB2012.15.7868)


Dip Netting Fish Aboard the THOMAS E. of New Point, VA. Pound nets once projected outward from the shore between New Jersey and farther south. The nets lure in and contain schools of herring, mackerel,  small tuna, and flounder that move along the beach, feeding. Pound nets function much like the weirs of Maine and New Brunswick but because the pound net touches the bottom, the lead line at the net’s lower edge can be hauled in to close up the net and capture the fish; a separate purse seine isn’t needed. (LB2012.15.5862. Photo by Russell Council 1966.)


Offloading a Pound Net, probably in New Jersey. With lead weights crimped to the net’s lower edge and its upper edge strung between stakes whose tops project a few feet above the water, the net will hang vertically like a curtain. After the fish strike and the lead line is hauled in to completely enclosed them, they’ll be dip-netted aboard the skiff which will then drawn up the beach by “pure” horsepower. (LB2012.15.5861  from the 1976 National Fisherman Yearbook, page 51)


Netting shrimp. Shrimpers tow their nets from outriggers, but this boat’s crew has hoisted its nets clear of the deck while in port. (LB2012.15.5992)


Mending Nets aboard the shrimp boat VOYAGER out of Tampa, Florida. (LB2012.15.6107. Photo by R.D. Stover)


Tonging for Oysters. Over Virginia beds thick with oysters, tongers work to harvest them. (LB2012.15.6943. Photo by John Frye)


Crews of This Boat and of HARD TIMES Anchor over oyster beds and bring their harvest aboard with scissor-like tongs. (LB2012.15.7214)


The Water has to be Shallow for tonging oysters, and in a tiny skiff like this the water had better be calm as well. Not a lot of carrying capacity, but these fellows don’t have much overhead either. (LB2012.15.7417 from 1989 National Fisherman Yearbook, page 96)


Dredging for Oysters. In deeper water, a steel dredge, dragged along the bottom, brings up the oysters—and whatever else lies there. Everything is dumped out on a culling board for sorting: the oysters stay while the rest of the debris is pushed back overboard. (LB2012.15.6920. Photo by Bailey)


Continue to Part 11

In 2012, Diversified Communications of Portland, ME, donated National Fisherman magazine’s entire pre-digital photographic archive to the Penobscot Marine Museum (PMM). Although the Museum has Fair Use rights to the images, responsibility for determining the nature of copyright and obtaining permissions to publish, transmit or reproduce these materials rests entirely with the researcher. You can view many more photos of this collection here.




4 Responses So Far to “Voyaging Thru Time: Photographs from Penobscot Marine Museum, Part 10”:

  1. Avatar Ben Fuller says:

    6069 is interesting; it was used at the advertising photo for US Rubber’s new hoses used with new fangled fish pumps. No dipping needed.

  2. Avatar Joseph Greeley says:

    On a minor editorial note: on the next to last picture I think you meant ‘better’ and ‘calm’ rather than ‘beeter’ and ‘clam’ . . .

  3. Avatar Bruce LePage says:

    Very beautiful,I rember many of this ! Please, much more, and thank you very much!

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