Billy Burbank III, Netmaker

In the accompanying interview, longtime net maker and Fernandina resident Billy Burbank III discusses the history and practices of the net making trade. Conducted by folklorist Peggy Bulger in July 1980, the interview begins with Burbank describing how his grandfather began the family business, Burbank Trawl Makers Inc., in 1915.

Fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80499

Fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80496

Possibly Billy Burbank III weaving a fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Possibly Billy Burbank III weaving a fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80466

Billy Burbank III weaving a fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Billy Burbank III weaving a fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80465

Piled up fishing nets: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Piled up fishing nets: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80494

Burbank Trawl Makers Inc.

Burbank nets have been used by people in the US from North Carolina down to Florida and up the Gulf Coast through the Texas Panhandle area. In addition, their nets have been exported to Central and South America and Africa. At the time of the interview, Burbank Trawl Makers was the largest producer of fishing nets in the United States.

Stories about the family business include nets made for President Nixon and a fishing boat that accidentally caught a submarine in its trawl nets.

Trawl maker at work at Burbank Trawl Makers: Fernandina Beach, Florida (1982)

Trawl maker at work at Burbank Trawl Makers: Fernandina Beach, Florida (1982)

Image number: PR14391

Making of a trawl at Burbank Trawl Makers: Fernandina Beach, Florida (1982)

Making of a trawl at Burbank Trawl Makers: Fernandina Beach, Florida (1982)

Image number: PR14395

Trawl being made at Burbank Trawl Makers: Fernandina Beach, Florida (1982)

Trawl being made at Burbank Trawl Makers: Fernandina Beach, Florida (1982)

Image number: PR14392

Flat Nets, Balloon Nets, and the Mongoose

Burbank also describes the different net types and uses – including flat nets, four seam balloon nets, two seam balloon nets, and a modification that Billy Burbank III developed called the Mongoose, which is actually two nets in one. He also describes the net making process, and the various tools and skills involved.

Fishing nets made by Burbank Trawl Makers hanging from pulleys: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Fishing nets made by Burbank Trawl Makers hanging from pulleys: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80504a

Tar vat used by Billy Burbank III for making nets: Fernandina Beach, Florida  (not after 1980)

Tar vat used by Billy Burbank III for making nets: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80511a

Close up view of fishing net made by Billy Burbank III: Fernandina Beach, Florida  (not after 1980)

Close up view of fishing net made by Billy Burbank III: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80507a

Net maker at work repairing a fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Net maker at work repairing a fishing net: Fernandina Beach, Florida (not after 1980)

Image number: FS80523a