Return to the Water Ways Website
Fun & Games Build Your Own Maritime Story Teachers Learning Tools
American Shad

Water Ways Lesson Plan #1: Who Catches Your Fish?

Objectives: Students will explore the types of fish caught in the Mid-Atlantic region, will learn about fishing methods and will meet some of the fishermen who catch the fish.

Materials: Computer access to the Water Ways on-line exhibition; map of the coast of the Mid-Atlantic States

Subjects: Language arts, social studies, science (biology, environmental science)


1. Ask students if they know where the fish that people eat at home and in restaurants come from. Have any students ever gone fishing? Have they seen fishing boats in local bodies of water or while on vacation?

2. Go to the Types of Mid-Atlantic Fish area of the Water Ways site. (Print out pages if students do not all have access to pages on computer.) Have students look at the pictures to see if they are familiar with any of these types of fish. Break students into groups and have each group read the facts about one type of fish. Depending on time, have each group research their fish further using web resources or library resources, and compile additional facts about that type of fish.

3. Go to the Fishing Methods area of the site (Fishing with Nets, Fishing with Pots, Aquaculture). Have each group of students explore which types of harvesting methods (nets, pots, dredges, etc.) are used to catch the fish they read about in #2 above. Discuss:

*What are the equipment needs for each type of fishing method? (Boats, nets, pots, etc.)
*What are some of the environmental concerns and regulations for this type of fishing?
*What is the difference between aquaculture and catching fish in the wild?

4. Play the following audio clips from the web site:

*Carl Tarnow, Tuckerton, New Jersey
*Scott Shepard, Bivalve, New Jersey
*"Pie" Edwards, Rock Hall, Maryland

Find the communities that each of these fishermen live and work in on the map. Discuss:

*What bodies of water do these fishermen work in?
*How did each of these fishermen start his career?
*What are some of the problems that these fishermen face?
*Why do they enjoy fishing?
*Why do they fish for more than one type of fish?

5. Play the following musical clip, from the Shore Memories/Music section:

*Davey Crockett, Tangier Island, Virginia: "Shaft Tong Boogey"


*What kind of fishing is the song about?
*How does the song describe the fisherman's work?
*Do you think this type of fishing is easy or hard?

6. Using the Build Your Own Maritime Story section of the Water Ways site, have each student find a photograph on the Water Ways web site, on another web site, or elsewhere, that depicts fishing, fishermen, fishing boats, etc. and write a caption for the picture reflecting their research and their own thoughts on fishing and fishermen. Depending on time, they could write a short essay or creative story about a fisherman, or from the point of view of a fish. Alternately, they might write a poem or song about a type of fishing technique, similar to Davey Crockett's "Shaft Tong Boogey."

Post selected stories on a bulletin board, showing where the fisherman work, or where the fish in the story is caught using the map and a key.

7. Ask the question from #1 above. Make a list of what the students have learned about where fish come from and who catches them.


*Invite a fisherman into your classroom to discuss his or her work
*Send selected stories to the Water Ways site for posting on the web (contact curator Betty Belanus at for more information)
*Research fishing regulations in a particular state, or for a particular species of fish, and write about how the regulations affect fishermen
*Select a maritime community and research it further, using the Water Ways site as your guide

Resources (Beyond the Water Ways Site):

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Marine Fisheries:

Maryland Waterman's Association:

Web search clues: searching for key words like "Hand tonging oysters" or "rock fish" or "Chesapeake Bay watermen" will net some interesting sites, including maritime museums and other fishermen's organizations.

Sample lesson plans:

Where Does Your Fish Come From?
Seasons in Maritime Communities
Weather and the Water

Home Water Ways Home Site Credits