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Bollack, James

Bollack with one of his cast nets
Bollack with one of his cast nets


James Bollack of Port Royal was a skilled and dedicated cast-net maker. For voer 45 years, Mr. Bollack crafted or “knitted” shrimp nets by hand.

He first began working with nets at age 12, when an uncle who was a Chesapeake Bay fisherman taught him repair techniques. Bollack moved to Port Royal in 1950, where he learned to make nets from a fellow firefighter. He continued to make the durable nets, despite the fact the 44-1/2 hour labor investment needed to make each net yielded an average of about $55. These nylon nets can last ten or even 20 years.

In contrast, modern monofilament nets cost half as much but usually last only a single season. Bollack also cast the lead weights for the nets in molds he made himself. Though demand for the handmade nets declined, Bollack continued to make nets for his own enjoyment and for the satisfaction of constructing a quality product. Bollack received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 1994.