The Vineyard Gazette recently uncovered rare footage of trap fishing out of Menemsha Harbor in the 1930s, as the practice was drawing to a close on the island. The 6-minute film shows fishermen motoring out of the harbor and tending to the traps, which were used to catch sea bass, tautog, scup, weakfish, herring and other coastal fish.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
If you had walked the shoreline of the Vineyard between roughly 1870 and the middle 1930s — especially the muscular, rocky north shore from Lambert’s Cove west to Gay Head — you would have seen something there’s absolutely no sign of today: row after row of wooden stakes stretching up to 100’ outward from the beach into Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds.
And every day but Sunday, the Sabbath, you’d have also seen men in dories hauling heavy lines and nets to the tops of those stakes and scooping thousands of fish into their boats.
It was called trap fishing, and it vanished from the Island as a business more than 70 years ago. But now there is a movie, just over 6 minutes long, showing men departing the fishing village of Menemsha and hauling trap just off the Aquinnah shoreline back in 1930 or perhaps 1931.
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