Net work is a specialist skill that requires intelligence and strength. It sets the fisherman apart from other fisherman and entitles him to higher status and pay. Net work skill includes both aesthetic pride and economic advantages.
Net work requires knowledge of the variables of water, weather, lake geography, fish behavior, fishing technique and the net material. The actual mending of nets requires special skills too. Some fishermen scheme out their net patterns on graph paper but the actual construction is done by memory and by hand in the net yard. All this cannot be learned by one’s own. It takes tradition to keep the experience alive. Tradition is not static but changes as the occupational circumstances change.
It is important to take proper care of the nets, too. Rotten nets can cause fish to be lost. Lake turbulence, lifting and pulling the nets, and rotting effects of water make all three sorts of nets in need of regular repair.
For more images of net work and the rest of the collection, visit the image gallery and click the Lake Erie Fishermen box on the right side of the page.