John is not the typical waterman; he was not born into this line of work, growing up watching his father work the water. John instead comes from farmers in Harford County, another profession that relies on the resources to provide food to others. So it was a natural transition when he decided to quit the daily grind of being a construction superintendant to do something more fulfilling and that would allow him to have a better quality of life and more flexibility for him and his future family.
John wasn’t a complete stranger to the water; he had family on Tilghman Island that worked the water so he knew the challenges that would be involved in making this his career. Sixteen years later, he’s taught himself everything he knows about being a waterman and hasn’t looked back. John does whatever the season allows for, crab potting, patent tonging, hand tonging, fyke and pound netting and eeling. John has to do it all in order to keep his seafood business running. In addition to being on the boat and operating a retail business, he also finds time to educate students and adults alike about what it means to be a waterman. John is heavily involved in the education program at the Annapolis Maritime Museum and you can find him many days at the museum talking to kids who come in for field trips on the dock. John calls Galesville, MD home port for his boat “Patricia Anne” named after his niece.
Born on Hoopers Island in Dorchester County, Ben remembers working with his father since he was “big enough to stand up.” A fourth generation waterman, Ben worked with his dad and his grandfather all the way through school until he went out on his own. When Ben was a boy growing up on Hoopers Island, he worked at Rippons Bros. Seafood cracking claws before school along with many of the others living on the island, “that’s just what you did”, Ben says.
Ben’s first boat was a 36’ traditional wooden workboat built by his grandfather in 1945. Out of that boat he pound netted, hand tonged, trot lined and crab potted. Like most watermen, Ben would do “whatever was going on at the time” to earn his living.
In 1985, Ben bought his 42’ boat ‘Joint Venture’ and in 2004 along with his son and nephew using a Markley hull built his current boat ‘Captain’s Lady’ which he now runs charters off of out of Church Creek.
Lifelong Waterman and farmer, Billy started working on the water when he was just 12 years old. Billy, from Charles County, works the Potomac River and the Maryland Tributaries of the Potomac. He is a 3rd generation watermen, crab potting, eeling, and gill netting for Striped Bass. Billy is also very active in the management side of the industry as well. He has served on the Potomac River Fisheries Commission for the past 20 years and has been affiliated with the Maryland Watermen’s Association for over thirty. At present, Billy serves on numerous advisory committees to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and is chairman of the Tidal Fish Advisory Commission.
Lifelong Waterman and farmer, Billy started working on the water when he was just 12 years old. Billy, from Charles County, works the Potomac River and the Maryland Tributaries of the Potomac. He is a 3rd generation watermen, crab potting, eeling, and gill netting for Striped Bass.
Fifth generation Dorchester County waterman, Scott Todd, has been working the waters of the Chesapeake Bay for the last 30 years. Todd, from Cambridge, grew up on the water, whether it was working with his father, waterman Donald Todd, on the Bay, or helping his grandfather, Milford Elliott, who was a boat builder. Those boat building skills picked up from his grandfather later came in handy when he, his father Donald and John Tull built his 46’ Markley, Endless Summer. Scott has worked all over the Bay crab potting, oystering and gill netting. Scott is also the proud owner of the Skipjack Lady Katie, which was built in 1956 by Bronza Parks in Wingate, MD.
He picked up his affinity for skipjacks while working with his other grandfather, Emerson Todd, who owned the Rebecca Ruark. When not on the water, Scott is still working to help other watermen and sustain the future of the commercial fishing industry. As President of the Dorchester County Seafood Harvesters Association and Vice-President of the Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Association, he stays busy.
For questions or comments contact Steve Vilnit - Fisheries Marketing Director @ firstname.lastname@example.org 410-260-2406
MD DNR Fisheries Service 580 Taylor Avenue Floor B-2 Annapolis, MD 21401