Fishing Boats

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 sail boat gave way to the lampara boat about 1915 name after the lampara net which replaced the gill net. These boats were powered 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.


1929 Sail boats were used in Alaska to fish for salmon, gill nets were used, and the boats had a two-man crew. Monterey fisherman would travel to Alaska in their off season to fish for salmon. Here we see the sail boats tied together being pulled by monkey boat with motor back from a day of fishing salmon (Monterey Public Library’s California History Room.)


Early 1900’s double ender style of boat, which came after the felucca Italian name for sail boat in side Monterey Harbor. The building at the end of Wharf II in the picture is Pacific Coast Steam Ship Company’s Freight and Ticket office. Freighters and steam ships would dock and loan and unload fright and passengers from ports like San Francisco (Monterey Public Library’s California History Room.)



Lampara fishing fleet moored in Monterey Harbor in the background is Municipal Wharf II 1927 the freighters docked at the Pacific Coast Steam Ship Company loading and unloading cargo. Notice the oil tank farm located on the sand dunes at the top of the photograph. The oil tanks were relocated from Presidio Curve after the 1924 Associated Oil Tank fire ignited by a lightning strike. The City did not allow Associated Oil Company to rebuild at the same location and moved them to East Monterey (photographer A.C. Heidrick Monterey Public Library’s California History Room.)



This lampara boat the Sea King owner Mariano Torrente was built with a winch and boom to close the half ring net and capture the sardines. The half ring net was an improvement over the older style lampara net all work was done by hand and was pulled evenly at the stern of the boat as not to lose the fish. Older lampara boats were converted by their owners to take advantage of the use of a winch and changed from the lampara net to the half rind net (Photograph courtesy of Peter Torrente.)



Eneas, Orazio Enea was listed as the boat owner 1939-40 fishing season he fished for San Carlos Canning Company ranked 19th in 1937-38 fishing season at 2070 tons (Photograph William L. Morgan courtesy of the Monterey Public Library’s California History Room.)



New Saturnia Frank Tardio was listed as the boat owner 1939-40 fishing season he fished for Hovden Food Products Corporation ranked 38th in 1937-38 fishing season at 1132 tons (Photograph William L. Morgan courtesy of the Monterey Public Library’s California History Room.)



California Star, the purse seine net on the deck in the stern of the boat is prepared for setting in 1937. These nets were made of a cotton fiber and subject to mildew, so they would have to be dipped into tanning tanks to preserve the net. (Photograph by William L. Morgan, courtesy of the Monterey Public Library’s California History Room.)

The American Rose December 24, 1937 (Photograph by William L. Morgan; Courtesy of the Monterey Public Library’s California History Room.)


1937 Old Style Half Ring Boat E.S. Lucido (Photograph by William L. Morgan, courtesy of the Monterrey Public Library’s California History Room.)



The purse seiner City of Monterey is shown on December 24, 1937. In the period between 1930 and 1940, there was a dramatic rise in the fishing fleet out of Monterey. The larger purse seiner boats dominated the local waters, and boats would travel from as far away as Washington to the north and San Diego to the south to fish in Monterey. (Photograph William L. Morgan courtesy of the Monterey Public Library’s California History Room.)