A Look Back At Cape Cod’s Fish Traps

Captain Steve Karras – My father was a commercial tuna fisherman in the 1940s and 50s, when the predominant way to catch tuna in New England waters was using weirs, or “fish traps.” Weir fishermen rely on nets and nature to make their catches. These weirs consist of long poles driven into the ocean floor, with nets strung from them. A long, straight line of poles and nets running in an offshore direction from shallower water toward deeper water would create a barrier, and at the deepest point of this barrier, there would be a heart-shaped chamber with a purse seine strung from it. The fish would swim along the coast until they were blocked by the trap. Their natural instinct to swim toward deeper water would bring them into the heart of the net. Once there, they would get disoriented and, unable to find an exit, be trapped until the fishermen returned to harvest them. More images, read the story here 10:33