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Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Water Ways: Mid-Atlantic Maritime Communities

Fisherman for a Day

Modern captains and a day on the water

Although many recreational fishermen in the Mid-Atlantic enjoy "surf casting" from the shore, near-shore and off-shore fishing requires a boat. Fishermen without their own boat have several options. Charter boat captains take small parties out for a day of fishing. The captains know from experience where to find fish and how to catch them, and give their patrons individualized attention. A less expensive option is the "head boat" or "party boat," which can accommodate a larger number of fishermen (who pay individually) for a half day or full day of fishing.

Captain Larry Simns from Rock Hall on the upper Chesapeake Bay is a long-time commercial fisherman and president of the Maryland Watermen's Association. He is also a charter boat captain, and takes parties out in his 46' boat, the Dawn II, to catch rockfish (striped bass), which is also an important commercial fish. Captain Simns knows both sides of the often-adversarial relationship between recreational and commercial fishermen. He says, "It can't get down to a race for the last fish between commercial and recreational fishermen. We've got to put our heads together to preserve the resources so we both have a future."

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Fishermen on dock. Photo by Charlie Petrocci.