Newport Beach - Newport Beach Dory
Fishing Fleet has a long history and tradition in Newport
Beach. The only commercial boats permitted to cast off from the beach
Newport Pier, the numbers of these vessels and fishermen have dwindled from the
early days when it was estimated that over 30 boats went
out daily to catch fish that were sold in an open air market on the municipal
beach in Newport Beach. Dory Fishing Fleet Photos
The Dory Fleet is a historical landmark since 1891 and the only one of its kind
in the United States.
Who: Dory Fishing Fleet fish market
Where: West Oceanfront & 21st Street at Newport Pier, Newport Beach, California
Time: daily, around 9 a.m.
Contact: Just show up (weather permitting) / doryfishingfleet.com
Dory fishing boats, for which the Dory
Fleet was named, may have been created near the turn of the 19th century on the
east coast of the United States. Englishman Simeon Lowell supposedly built the
first dory in Massachusetts around 1793. The name "dory" may have come from a
redfish, John Dory Fish, found in Nova Scotia. The cost of a dory was $ 12
(expensive for that era.) During the 1800's large schooners carried stacks of dories on
their decks, and once in the deep seas, released each dory with a crew of one or two fishermen.
Nested stacks of dories were often deployed to lay or tend nets. When fish were
abundant, dory fishermen made several trips back to the schooner to unload, then
row back out to the great fishing spots.
Slightly modified through time, the dory
style boats now include motors, improving their utility for fishing.
Small, shallow and approx. 15 to 22 ft. in length, their lightweight and versatile
properties with hulls characterized by flat sides angled approx. 30 degrees, and flat bottom and rocker (fore-and-aft bowed shape)
offer stability, yet maneuverability. The stern is a narrow transom that tapers sharply toward the bottom, forming a
nearly double-ended boat. Mostly used for fishing, the boats have also been
adapted for river exploration, though rubber rafts have replaced them in
The are numerous tales of the dorymen who
have faced storms and other challenges. In Newport Beach the doryman's day begins as early as 2 a.m.,
when the few remaining anglers
(around seven or eight), head into the dark seas. Working through sunrise,
they must bring their catch back to shore and get ready
to sell them any time from around 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Fighting offers from Japanese
wholesalers to purchase each day's catch, these local fishermen have persisted
in marketing to local restaurants and individuals
seeking the freshest catch.
The Dory Fishing Fleet, the only one of
its kind in the U.S., began with a
fisherman tired of selling his fish to the wholesalers. He supposedly began
selling his fish on the beach to an eager public who purchased his fresh fish,
saving money and getting the best product. The Dory Fleet Market, was
dedicated as an historical landmark by Newport Beach Historical Society in June
1969. It is located north of the Newport
Pier, with metered parking available. Open 7 days/week usually around 7 a.m. to
9 a.m., weather permitting, customers line up at the boats to purchase fish most
weekends, especially. The day’s catch is sold out of weather-beaten boats that
function as sales counters and table tops where fish are beheaded and cleaned
before customers’ eyes. Seafood lovers line up at the fish market around sunrise
and leave with bags of fresh fish or crustaceans such as crab.
Obstacles that could eventually end this beloved business and tradition in
Newport Beach include a 2002 emergency fishing ban that required the City of
Newport Beach to lobby on behalf of the Dory Fleet to ease federal regulations.
An ever increasing battery of fishing regulations is one of the most significant trends that has
affected the dory fleet. With forecasts that the world's oceans could be
depleted of edible fish by 2050, the future and survivability of the Dory
Fishing Fleet remains today in the hands of a few fishermen willing to to
work one day at a time, casting nets and selling their wares in a manner much
like their Newport Beach ancestors who began this tradition.