The Leu-tzé, or fishing cormorant of China, is the pelicanus sinensis, and resembles very much the common cormorant of England, which, we are told by naturalists, was once trained up to catch fish, pretty much in the same manner as those of China are. They are exceedingly expert in taking fish, and pursue them under water with great eagerness. They are taken out, on the rivers and lakes, in boats or bamboo rafts; and though sent on the chace after long fasting, they are so well trained that they rarely swallow any of the fish they take until they are permitted to do so by their masters. Many thousand families in China earn their subsistence by means of these birds.
Fishing provided food as well as recreation for the colonists. (Conjectural sketch by Sidney E. King.)
When the first settlers planted their small colony at Jamestown, the tidewater rivers and bays and the Atlantic Ocean bordering the Virginia coast teemed with many kinds of fish and shellfish which were both edible and palatable. Varieties which the colonists soon learned to eat included sheepshead, shad, sturgeon, herring, sole, white salmon, bass, flounder, pike, bream, perch, rock, and drum, as well as oysters, crabs, and mussels. Seafood was an important source of food for the colonists, and at times, especially during the early years of the settlement, it was the main source.
Those in England who planned to go to Virginia were always advised to provide themselves (among other items) with nets, fishhooks, and lines.
During archeological explorations, fishhooks, lead net weights, fish-gigs, and small anchors were uncovered. These are reminders of a day when fish and shellfish were abundant in every tidewater Virginia creek, river, and bay.