Although probably the most important Dutch marine painter of the first half of the seventeenth century, little is known of de Vlieger's early career, although his paintings of the 1620s and 1630s reveal a clear debt to Jan Porcellis. By the 1640s he had evolved his own style, recognisable for its silvery light, cool palette and strong draftsmanship. De Vlieger formed a link between the second and third generations of Dutch marine painters, influencing Willem van de Velde II, who worked in his studio at Weesp, as well as Hendrick Dubbels and Jan van de Cappelle (who owned numerous paintings and more than 1,300 drawings by de Vlieger), who probably also worked there.
One of the most appealing aspects of de Vlieger's best works is the quantity of observational touches that he employed, and that impart a particularly lively and engaging realism to his paintings. These include here, for example, the figure hauling in the net on the jetty, the fisherman gesturing in the rowing-boat, or man at the top of the wooden steps holding a net. These are complemented by a close attention to naturalistic details, for example the group of boats in the calm waters to the right and the further faintly delineated boats on the distant horizon. The impression of realism achieved is underpinned by a carefully thought-out composition, in which the jetty to the right is balanced by the boats to the left and spaced on either side of the clear view to the horizon in the centre of the picture, which creates an avenue leading the eye into the distance, a device that that de Vlieger would particularly pioneer in his later parade pictures.