Photographs are the courtesy of the Monterey Public Library 's California Historic Room and Willian L. Morgan Collection. Appreciation also to Members of the Italian Heritage Society of Monterey for their photographs.
Fishing in Monterey Bay was mainly for salmon and was done by the sail boat or what the Italians call felucca. Salmon were caught with gill nets this net consists of one or more panels of webbing fastened together. They are left free to drift with the current, usually near the surface or not far below it. These sail boat or felucca been approximately 16 – 20 feet long and had a crew of 5 and would haul the net in by hand.
The sailboat gave way to the lampara boat about 1915 name after the lampara net which replaced the gill net. These Lampara boats were driven by a small engine. These boats towed another boat called a lighter and could carry 5 to 7 tons of sardines back to the canneries. The outbreak of World War I in 1917 made improvements in the lampara boats. Boats were made larger and the lighters they towed could carry 20 to 25 tons of sardines.
These boats approximately 30 feet in length and were power by larger engines about 25 lampara boats operated out of Monterey during this time.
Between 1925 and 1929 the boats continued to get larger. During this period the lampara net was phased out and the half ring net was introduced making way for the half ring boats allowing them to travel further out to sea. The half ring net was capable of trapping 200 tons of sardines in one set using a hydraulic winch. Older lampara boats were converted into half ring boats and winches installed.
The purse seiner was introduced between 1929 and 1932. The purse seiner received its name from the type of net that it used. The boat would set the net anchoring one end and the skiff the other end circles the fish the skiff and the boat would come together, and the bottom of the net would be closed capturing the fish. The larger purse seiner approximately 80 feet in length had a hold in the hull which could accommodate 70 to 140 tons of fish.