Friday, February 19, 2010

Pound Nets

The Glimpses into the Past section of of this week's Gazette Journal makes several references to a cucumber packing plant at Cobbs Creek pound nets.

If you're wondering what a pound net is, click here to view a blurry photo of one and an even blurrier write-up from when I first started this insanity blog.

Better yet, if Mathews Mark is reading perhaps he could leave us a comment describing what they are.

The bottom line is pound nets are on the Endangered Species List of the Chesapeake Bay, a list which includes watermen.

100 Years Ago
Thursday, Feb. 17, 1910
from the Mathews Journal

The fishermen are all busy, improving every reasonably good day, getting down stakes in order to set their pounds for the spring* fishing. The work is hard, the exposure is great, and they earn all they get. If something is not done to protect the pine woods,** it is only a question of time before they become a thing of the past. The fishermen in and around New Point will set about 400 pound nets this season. Perhaps each net will require an average of 125 stakes, which means 50,000 trees.

70 Years Ago
Thursday, Feb. 15, 1940

Large numbers of pound stakes, which had been driven by fishermen in preparation for the spring* shad run, were carried away by heavy ice floes last week as Tidewater thawed out from the heaviest freeze in years. This ice and snow which prevailed for almost two weeks created an almost unprecedented scarcity of oysters and fish.

* Did you see that? The word "spring" was mentioned twice in these February articles. Daylight eternal grass cutting and warmer weather are bound to be on the horizon.

**The fact that I have 3 good-sized pine seedlings growing in my gutter as we speak gives me some degree of confidence that pine trees are not in short supply in Mathews County.

But the pound nets are a different story.


Diane said...

I have no idea what a pound net is. Maybe you could do a seminar on it at Blog Fest. I excel at pop quizes! Did I mention The Baroness and I bought our plane tickets this week. Can't wait to see you, pumpkin!

Mathews Mark said...

OK, AM, back me up on this ! a pound net is a large fish trap. It is a line of poles (cut saplings) appx.100 to 200 yard long running in a straight line which have a net attached to them. The net runs from the bays bottom to the top of the water. the fish follow the the net to its end, at the end is the head of the net. It is a circle of net held in place by pound poles. This net has a bottom much like a bowl with lines running to the center, these are used to pull the net in or As Watermen say "Fish the pound". There is and opening at the end of the line of poles allowing the fish into the circle. But before the opening there is a series of funnels (v shaped net) this stops the fish from swimming away when they see or smell the pound head (bowl) part of the net. Ok you are saying what the Hell is he talking about. Think of a long arrow pointing to a circle .The fish swim up to the arrow, there is no were to go, so they follow the arrow into the circle. You are now saying why don't the cute little fishies swim to the other end of the arrow and go around? This is were 200 years of setting pounds kicks in.The old salts of the bay know were and how to set the nets. They know were, when and what direction the fish are going. Trust Me they know! If the fish are running hard the Watermen will fish the nets every other day with a good catch coming in over 1000 pounds or more. But ah last, this is a dieing breed. There may be one or two Watermen left in Mathews still fishing pounds. Not to long a go there were pound nets all over the bay! AM did I leave anything out? MM

Mathews Mark said...

Here is something to fire up the brain cell on this fine Friday (now this could be about any thing so keep your minds out of the gutter please). Here goes "IF YOU COULD, WOULD YOU?" let me know what you come up with. MM

Ann Marie said...

MM you didn't leave a thing out.. well done well written Pop and Grandaddy Owens would be proud.

Dying breed is an understatement of the year when it comes to pound fishing. Cousin Ronald still does it he has one off shore and one in shore by the lighthouse (in case you lovely ladies at the Blogfest '09 don't remember it I pointed out the stakes for the pound nets on our boat ride but someone was probably too busy screaming SHARK!!!! to hear me)

This is how my family on my fathers side made their living, my grandfather, great grandfather, uncles, cousins for as far back as I can remember worked those boats fishing nets. JV the Ellen Marie made a many a haul of fish out of those nets you speak of today (why I am talking like I was born in 1829??)

I didn't have a picture on my blog post today but I think i will post one just for you...

Got anymore questions about the fishing.. just ask.. I am around :)

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Diane-YAY! on the tickets. Mathews Mark will be in charge of the Pound Net Seminar at Blog Fest.

Mathews Mark-Thanks for that insight on the nets. (If you click the link in the post it goes to something I pulled from somewhere on the internet - there's actually a lot of info out there talking about how they're constructed, shaped, etc.)

Now, regarding your question. I'd have to know what "it" is because my answer would vary depending on that. For example: Would I quit my job if I could because i'd won the lottery? Oh, yes, indeed. Would I quit my job if I could because I was ready to cry at the prospect of another day there, but I don't have any money to live on? No. Would I hire a maid if I could? OH YES. Would I hire a live-in maid if I could? Oh no.

I've got to stop because I'll take up all the real estate here and I already do that in the regular's going to be a balmy, warm, sunny day today - 40s.

AM-Thank you so much for that. It's sad to think of how in our lifetime alone things have changed for the watermen.

Caution/Lisa said...

That seems like exhausting work. I suppose that fishermen must enjoy the gambling nature of the job though? (That little insight was gleaned through Deadliest Catch, thank-you.)

I WOULD ABSOLUTELY hire a live-in maid. She would need to be very old and quite smelly, but if she cleaned the house nicely, well, the job would be hers. Provided that she cooked, too.

Ann Marie said...

If I could I would move today to NoVA cause I love it there. The end.

Mathews Mark said...

CF I'm old and can be smelly can document my cleaning and cooking ability's. However last time I checked I was not a woman but if the pay is right who no's. LOL MM

Daryl said...

In for a penny, in for a pound I always say .. nets away!

foolery said...


Mark, I was totally able to follow the pound net explanation. Either that or this isn't coffee in my cup. I thought it was coffee?

Sorry. Thanks MM and Ann Marie -- and oh yes, whatshername -- CBW? -- for educating this lost cause once again. Have a good weekend peoples!

maria from nj said...

I'm a visual person. Here is a bird's eye view of one

And this is a drawing of one on steroids

If I could, I would retire now and move to Puerto Rico and let a Cabana Boy bring me cool drinks as needed.

Happy Friday!

WV-senpolo: Which is what I will be watching with the cabana boy.

big hair envy said...

Nautical trivia was just what I needed on this sunny Friday!! Thanks to all:)

Does anyone want to come over and watch "Jaws" with me this weekend??;)

Mental P Mama said...

Am and MM need to get a room;) It is spring down here!

Unknown said...

That photo is gorgeous,and I love how much knowledge I absorb (like a sieve) from your blog! You and MM should write a book together...or alone.

Off to the first track meet for my g-daughter today!

Country Girl said...

Don't you love when people have small trees growing in their gutters?

maryland fishing said...

Thanks for the article, and the description of the pound net seems accurate to me.