When did fishermen switch from baited lines to trawling nets?
John McElhenny writes-
Good reminder today about what a great source of information we have in the Sawyer Free Library. The History Channel had a question for a fishing-related TV show they’re working on so they contacted Gloucester. They wanted to know, When did fishermen switch from baited lines to trawling nets?
So we turned to the Sawyer Free Library and their excellent staff came through as usual. Reference Librarian Judith Oski put on her detective hat and here’s what she found:
According to the "Fishermen’s Own Book" by the Procter Brothers (1882), "The first trawl [in Gloucester] was made and set across Brace’s Cove in 1820, by Mr. John Rowe, still living at East Gloucester at the age of 75 years."
According to "The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States," by G. Brown Goode (1884-87), "About 1851 or 1852 an old Irishman down at Swampscott bought an old dory and went to work rigging a trawl as he had been accustomed to do in the old country."
According to "The Port of Gloucester" by James B. Connolly (1940), "For more than two centuries Gloucestermen did all their fishing from the deck of the vessel and by means of single lines. It wasn’t until the third quarter of the last century [i.e. between 1875 and 1899] that Gloucestermen began to take notice of the trawling methods of the Frenchmen on the Grand Banks."
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If readers have other thoughts on when the adoption of trawling nets took place, love to hear ‘em!