For centuries, people have made their living on the water here at Rock Hall. Earliest accounts of the place relate that fisherman hauled in enormous amounts of rockfish; some believe the fish gave the town its name.
A Working Waterfront
Called waterman, people who comb the Bay for the "daily catch" harvest an array of seafood species that changes with the seasons. A waterman may bring in blue crabs in the summer, oysters in the fall, and striped bass or perch in the winter months. Springtime offers eels, catfish, yellow perch, and soft shell claims. Many waterman families have been in Chesapeake Bay's seafood industry for several generations.
To Learn More
To learn more about the history of the local fishing industry, visit the Waterman's Museum. The Rock Hall Museum offers artifacts from more than a century of life in this fishing village. The Town Office is your best source for information on museums and other attractions.
A Dwindling Resource
As the health of the Bay weakened over the last half of the 20th century, making a living on the water became increasingly difficult. Seafood populations are still on the decline, and fishing regulations have increased. Watermen who remain in the business face the challenge of making a profit from and increasingly scarce resource.
Rock Hall's annual Waterman's Day is a Fourth of July tradition celebrating the men and women who make their living from local waters.
Tools of the Trade
(Inscription below the photo in the upper center)
Above, a pound net is a fish trap where fish are caught and kept alive until dipped out by a waterman and sorted for market. Image courtesy Bernadette Van Pelt.br> (Inscription below and beside the photos in the upper right)
Above, crab pots are baited traps that allow the crabs to crawl right in! Most crab pots are designed to let small crabs escape. Image courtesy iStockphoto. Shown on the left, oyster tongs are used to rake the oysters into a pile and then scoop them up. The handles, or shafts, are 16-28 feet long, depending on the depth of the water. Image courtesy Skip Brown.