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Focus on Seniors: Horner still working on the water 43 years after ‘retiring’

Johnny Horner retired 43 years ago, and he hasn’t stopped working since. On Monday, he went gill netting in his 21-foot skiff, the “Fishaholic,” and landed 176 pounds of bluefish and 48 pounds of croaker. He also pulled in 15 bushels of menhaden.

The 86-year-old Mathews resident ended his two-decade career with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1972 and immediately purchased a haul seine rig to work on the water. After a couple of years, he sold the rig and turned to gill netting, which better suited him.

For four decades now, he has fished his nets in Mobjack Bay or adjacent rivers almost every day, leaving them overnight during cold weather and rising at 4 a.m. to have breakfast at North Star Mart before heading to the dock around 6 a.m. In warm weather, he switches to a technique of casting and hauling a single net several times over the course
of a morning, dragging a bell and chain along parallel to the net to scare the fish into it.

While he did the job alone in the ea...

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