Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hauling Nets

Gill nets.... you either love 'em or hate 'em, mostly hate 'em.  Pepop was known to put out a gill net now and then.  Pepop must have been the model for Tom Sawyer as he had a way of suckering kids into child labor making kids think work was fun and therefore helping him with his chores.  One of these chores was setting the gill net in the evening then hauling it in the wee morning hours of the next day.  Very wee hours.  Like no-human-in-their-right-mind-would-willingly-get-up-to-go-haul-stinkin'-fish-nets hours. 

Anyway, the routine was that in the evening we would ride out on Pigpen (Pepop's boat) to go set the net.  He typically put it in the Rappahanock not too far from the mouth of the Bay.  I remember throwing buoys over, then the ole hand-over-hand of slowly feeding the net into the water.  S-L-O-W-L-Y (also read agonizingly boring for a kid).  Usually there was always some sort of tangle to work out.  Eventually we'd get'r done and head home watching the sun set behind the Robert O. Norris Jr. Bridge (or the Rappahannock River Bridge).
I stole borrowed this picture to show what the gill net looks like once it's been set.  Fascinating.

Come morning the hours before morning, we would get up, dress, maybe grab a snack and head over to Pepop's Pier to board the boat and head to sea the rivah to see what we caught.  I would be lying if I tried to say that I hated this part.  I loved to go bring in the net.  There was the sense of surprise- "What would we get??!"  Sometimes we were lucky and caught a Great White sand shark which was the best prize of all- for a couple of 8 years olds anyway. 

But it was early (before 4am- we had to be over Pepop's by 4- 4:30).  Very early for a couple of kids.  My cousin Kelly and I overslept one morning and woke up to the sound of the engine.  We jumped up, threw on clothes (I distinctly remember a bright red windbreaker I owned that I always wore) and proceeded to race across the front lawns of our neighbors screaming for Pepop to wait for us.  Luckily we were fast and made it to the public pier where he picked us up (If I remember correctly he was laughing- I'm sure the neighbors were not).

The trip out to the river was the best.  Usually the waves were large enough that we could lean over the side of the boat and soak our heads.  Kelly and I loved doing this and always tried to tell our grandmother that we had fallen over.  I'm not sure, but I don't think she believed us seeing as how only our heads were wet.
Pepop was lucky enough to have a gill net hauler.  He had 2- their names were Jamie and Kelly.  Usually there was another adult there to help since child labor laws make it illegal to force us to work we were little.  We'd haul the net, watching for anything more interesting than a Spot or Croaker.  The sun would begin to rise over the Bay and we'd head back with our catch- soaking our heads the whole way. 
Don't get excited, stole this pic too from the AP News, it really is the sunrise on the Rappahannock near Deltaville.