Friday, June 16, 2017


Cecil Bragg, in his book, Ocracoke Island: Pearl of the Outer Banks, writes about "Progueing for a living." He says, "It seems that word isn't used except on the Outer Banks. Fishing, clamming, crabbing, oystering and shrimping are called progueing... To catch clams [in years gone by] one used a farm rake with the teeth bent in a bow-shape so it would push easier in the seaweed growth and one could feel the rake hit a clam and they would dig [it] up and put it in a wooden water-tight box which we drug behind us with a rope tied around our waists."

Nowadays we progue for clams using rakes with tines fashioned from stainless steel table knives, and with metal or plastic baskets equipped with a flotation device. Other than that, the procedure is the same as it was done many years ago.


This is what I wrote about progueing several years ago: Old time O'cockers could often be found progueing for a living. They'd progue for fish, clams, oysters, crabs, even turtles. Sometimes they'd use a gig (for flounder), a rake (for clams), or tongs (for oysters). Turtle progues were also used on the island.

Progue is a variation of an obsolete term "prog" (going back at least to 16th century England & Scotland), meaning to search, prowl about, or forage for food or plunder. On Ocracoke it can be used to mean searching for seafood, or more generally for just poking about or jabbing at something (e.g. "Will you quick proguing around in that pile of trash!").

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Aleta, Ocracoke's mailboat from 1944-1952, compliments of the Core Sound Museum. Click on the following link for photos, text, and audio recordings about this iconic vessel:


  1. Jeff P6:56 AM

    There is a whole chapter dedicated to "progging" in Tom Horton's book, An Island Out of Time. If you haven't read, it is a well written memoir about Smith Island, which is off of Maryland's Eastern Shore. On the Shore, to progue, or progging, usually refers to poking around the marsh looking for stuff (turtles also).

  2. Anonymous7:43 AM

    Will you Quick (sic) proguing around that pile of trash.... sounds like my idea of a great time, checking out the "trash" I bet on the island with all the rental units items are left behind accidentally or a unit is remodeled or re decorated oh my, the possibilities are endless. Be still my racing heart Do tell PH, is the island a great treasure trove of the household kind??. If you are willing to share some local lore of the big find, the legendary trash was treasure. Is there a day of the year folk put curbside items unwanted but free for the taking or is there an annual community wide Yard sale???? Is there even a craigslist link for OI??

    1. Island rental house cleaners still progue for left-behind mayonnaise, mustard, and assorted condiments.

      We do not have curbside trash pickup of any kind, so, no, there is no annual pickup of "big items." But treasures can often be found at the "convenience site." We also have a busy thrift store and an online web site for buying, selling, and trading used items. The bulletin board at the Post Office usually contains notices of used items for sale.

  3. Anonymous3:24 PM

    What is the name of this online web site for .......used items? Thanks.

    1. The used item website is a private, invitation-only
      website for island residents.