Fish Traps – Long Beach, Sag Harbor

My 100th post. Thanks to all who have stopped by!

This photograph is of a group of trap stakes forming the leader for what has been called a “fish trap” here on eastern Long Island for as long as anyone can remember. The picture in my previous post will give you an idea what the complete trap looks like from the water.  My friend Brad Loewen, (a lifetime commercial fisherman in Springs) told me recently that the more proper name is pound traps — a term rarely used here unless it’s in an “official” conversation.

It was only after talking to Brad, that I gained an appreciation for the amount of work that’s involved in preparing these stakes. For years, fisherman have been harvesting young oaks and hickories and shaping them into twelve foot poles, shaving each to a pointed end. The final step in the process involves pumping them into the mud of shallow bays…a tiring job done from a boat (which sends the fisherman home with a ravenous appetite!)

Sometimes when hiking along the bay I’ve stumbled upon groups of freshly honed trap stakes lying above the tideline. The poles are ready to go, complete with rigging.  In a day or so, the fisherman will return to drag his stakes offshore to be installed in a fish trap. I’ve often noted how these poles (with their bluntly sharpened tips) seem to closely resemble the small trees felled by beavers.

Fishermen like Brad are maintaining an age-old occupation which has been carried on here since before the arrival of Europeans.

Incidentally, Brad’s wife Cyndi is an outstanding  watercolorist and stipple artist and we’ll be doing a show together at Ashawagh Hall on the weekend of February 18, 19 and 20 next year. More on that later…