George Washington, our First Angler-in-Chief
Stories abound of George Washington's love of fishing. It was more than a pastime, though. George Washington was a commercial fisherman. Mount Vernon was an 8000 acre estate that cultivated wheat and other food crops. However, the most profitable enterprise was the yearly fishing harvest from the Potomac River. To this day, you can visit the three fisheries established by Washington. There are two passages in the "Writings of George Washington" that detail a purchase from a London netmaker. There is very little difference between the instructions for this net and the nets we build for our customers today, though we don't need two years advance notice.
In the "Writings of George Washington," Volume 3, page 62, there is listed an invoice of goods to be shipped by Robert Cary & Co., London netmaker, "for the use of Geo. Washington, Potomac River, Virginia." The invoice, dated July 18, 1771, covers:
- "1 seine, 75 fathoms long when rigged for hauling: to be 10 feet deep in the middle and 8 at the ends with meshes fit for the herring fishery. The corks to be 2-1/2 feet asunder: the leads 5 feet apart, to be made of the best 3 strand (small) twine and tanned.
- "400 fathoms of white inch rope for hauling the above seine.
- "150 fathom of deep sea line."
On July 15, 1772, Washington sent the following note with his order:
". . . .The goods you will please to forward by the first vessel for Potomac (which possibly may be Captn. Jordan the bearer of this) as there are some articles that will be a good deal wanted especially the seine, which will be altogether useless to me if I do not get them early in the spring, or in other words I shall sustain a considerable disappointment and loss, if they do not get to hand in time."