The year 1896 is an important date in the history of Ocean City for it marked the beginning of the commercial fishing industry and changed a small seasonal resort to a year-round town.
Captain Christopher Ludlam brought a crew of fishermen from Cape May, N.J. and began pound fishing off the coast of Ocean City in the spring of 1896. The fish pounds, located a half mile to over a mile offshore, were huge traps made of nets. They were designed to let fish swim in but not escape once inside. The nets were secured by hickory poles driven into the ocean floor in water ranging from 32 to 44 feet deep.
The boats were launched from the beach through the surf and carried a crew of seven men. At the fish pound, the nets were pulled by hand into the boat — there was no machinery aboard a pound boat to help lift heavy nets. The catch was dumped into the boat and at times it seemed like the men were wading in fish. On the return trip, planks, rollers and a draft horse were used to pull the boat up the beach.
Pound fishing lasted until a hurricane on Aug. 23, 1933 created the Inlet.
Photo courtesy Dale Timmons