Generations of Maine Lobster Fishermen

Meet Captain Alex!

Generations of lobster fishermen are the norm, as the ‘art of fishing lobster’ is handed down through families in Maine.  Alex’s license came from his great grandfather, when he was just 6 years old, and at the time it was an open fishery.  Today with a waiting list for licenses, the Maine apprenticeship program allows children to bypass the list if they complete the program and apply for a license by age 18.   Alex’s two sons, age 12 and 15, are now in the program and also have their own lobster boat.

“It’s just in the blood.”  With a long lineage and family network of maritime fisherman, Alex’s own father hauled lobster and several other species to make ends meet. He would sell herring to the local factory and return home with canned sardines for Alex to use as lobster bait. For generations of families, lobster can be a true love affair.

It’s a Family Affair on Scenic Orr’s Island, Maine

Meet Captain Chuck!

Lobster fishing is a way of life and often a family affair.  On Orr’s Island, which is connected to another larger island by bridge, Chuck has a mother, wife and 2 daughters that work at the local island restaurant (serving countless lobster rolls to locals and tourists alike.)  This family involvement of several, if not all family members, in the business of lobster, can be witnessed among hundreds of ocean harbors along the eastern seaboard.   Local employment is driven by fisheries, and in this delicious case, the wild caught fishery of lobster.

Chuck, like many lobster fishermen is found selling a portion of his catch fresh from the boat.  Like a farmer’s fruit stand on a scenic country road, nautical settings like Orr’s Island, offer hungry customers, the opportunity to know exactly who caught dinner.  In this case it’s our hero, and each day, his family sells live lobster from a wharf in front of their home.  This flash sale opens for a whopping “one half hour” each afternoon.  Now that’s island living!

Located in Casco Bay and the Gulf of Mane, the small group of islands that make up Chuck’s community consists of 300 – 400 lobster fishermen in the surrounding waters.  They rely on the sea for their livelihood, as did the generations of fishermen who frequented the fish shack, photographed above with our hero.  Having stood the test of time for over 200 years, the shack and  surrounding land have been put into a special trust.  The protective trust names commercial fishermen as the focus and honors a long line of fishermen and future generations to come.

Lobster Themed Visit to York – Light Up Your Life

Nubble Light

Start your visit at the Nubble Light in coastal York, Maine (built in 1879.)  As you enter Sohier Park from Nubble Road, you will immediately see Nubble Light sitting atop the large rock island a few hundred feet off shore. Visitors are welcome to the park year round for excellent views, painting, photographing, fishing and relaxing.  The small gift shop and restroom facilities are open seasonally from mid April thru mid October (weather dependent) and offers parking for approximately 60 vehicles.

Consider a lobster roll at nearby Fox’s Lobster House, which is right on the edge of the park near the lighthouse!  Once you’ve eaten your fill of lobster, don’t miss Fisherman’s Walk.   The walk takes you by piers, wharves and boats moored in the river to the Wiggly Bridge.  A lovely finish to a beautiful day in the York area.

{Photo Credit: Jeremy D’Entremont, New England Lighthouses}

Why we love it: The lighthouse makes for a great backdrop for pictures with friends!

Fresh Facts:

Lobster Bibs on Cape Cod

From end to end and in every charming town in between, Cape Cod is filled with magical charms.  Sandy beaches and lobster shacks, adorable towns and scenic harbors…the Cape is a world away from it all.

From the moment you cross over the bridge (although you can take a little plane), you’ll start to feel relaxed and more carefree.  Lobster abounds in every crevice of the cape from lobster fishermen to nautical decor.  Hundreds of restaurants have your lobster lunch or dinner just waiting for enjoyment.

❥Trail Trip Idea:

● Start with quaint and historic Sandwich.  If you stay consider the Daniel Webster Inn.

● Meander down Route 6A and soak in the cape charm that rolls by your car window.

● Make your way to Chatham and have lobster lunch at Chatham Bars Inn or at the Chatham Fish Pier.

● Don’t leave the Cape without going to the very tip and visit Provincetown.  This unique beach town offers many ways to lobster it up and is one of the happiest places in the Northeast.

If you go: Do stay a few nights as so much to see and do.  Take the Provincetown Dunes tour (it’s a must!)

Take a trip to Bean Town!

Regardless of the season this is a lobster town!  Filled with scenic harbor views (yep, they do fish here), countless restaurants and so many selfie stops.

Filled with history and cobblestone streets, you can’t walk a few blocks without finding another fantastic spot to eat lobster and people watch.

❥Trail Trip Idea:

● Start with the HarborWalk at the Seaport end.  Beautiful way to see the water.

● Stop at the Barking Crab for a fabulous and fun lobster lunch!

● Continue your stroll and consider stopping in at New England Aquarium.

● Maybe consider taking a lobster boat tour or staying for dinner in the North End (pasta w/ lobster.)

If you go: Bring comfy shoes and a selfie stick if you own one!

Share the Love on the South Shore

Anytime of year, this lovely coastal village offers a great getaway!  Take a day trip or stay a night or two. Scituate Massachusetts is pure lobster and home to the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. Offering a lovely harbor filled with lobster boats, scenic lobster eateries and charming shops…you are sure to find delight in all four seasons.

Trail Trip Idea:

– Stop at Lucky Finn Cafe and grab a coffee.  This little charmer has astounding waterviews.

– Stroll the surrounding wharves and harbor, taking photographs, watching boats and listening to seagulls.

– Grab lunch or dinner at Mill Wharf Restaurant which offers fabulous lobster and huge waterview windows.

– Jump in the car and drive a mile to the Scituate Lighthouse (you could always have a lobster roll picnic here too!)

Winter day trip to historic New Bedford

With a chill in the air and our coastline dressed up for the holidays, head out to Southeastern Massachusetts and enjoy a coastal day trip.  Did you know New Bedford boasts one of the largest seafood ports in the USA.

❥ Trail Trip Idea:

  • Start at that cozy coffee shop on a quaint cobblestone street (Tia Maria’s) which is also super close to the Whaling Museum.
  • Leisurely stroll and browse the cute shops.  Soak in the maritime history.
  • You really MUST visit the Whaling Museum if you have time.  It’s amazing.
  • Take a selfie or two near all the cool boats in the Black Whale parking lot (yes, go for lunch.)
  • Have lunch at the charming Black Whale (sit at the bar looking out at harbor) and enjoy the different lobster items on the menu.

Ensuring a sustainable way of life in Maine

Passing it down to the next generation.  

Tied up next to John’s boat in Bass Harbor, are his Dad’s boat and his brother’s boat.  It’s a family of lobster fishermen, and John’s two year old son will most likely grow up to work alongside them.  Sustainability of lobster populations for future generations is crucial to this family and the countless thousands like them, in lobster fishing communities from Quebec, Canada to Long Island, USA.

In order to ensure bountiful lobster catches, lobster fishermen like John and his sternman Victor, practice a regulatory measure called v-notching.  This practice involves cutting a V into the tail of any egg bearing female lobster they catch.  Once notched, the lobster is placed back into the ocean, so it may produce millions of juvenile lobster eggs over a lifetime.  These v-notched females may never be harvested and are a testament to the lobster fishermen “doing good for seafood. ”

Although costly to the lobster fishermen, the catch and release of egg bearing females, is a self sustaining practice.  Lobster fishermen are heroes of a well managed lobster fishery.

Lobster Lady – Catches Lobster for Husband’s Pub

Lobster Lady in Massachusetts

Since she was a little girl, Therese has been hanging around lobster boats and learning the ways of the sea.  Conveniently living down the street, she would watch the lobstermen’s activities, at the same dock where her boat is tied up today.

At approximately 10 years of age, Therese was given a few lobster traps by a kindly mentor and her childhood play turned to a life time of lobster.  over the years, her fishing vessels grew from a little row boat, to a skiff, and finally a full size boat like she runs today.  When asked what she loves most about catching lobsters, she says “Being on the ocean, is like being in heaven.”  Like all lobster fishermen, this is way more than a day job for Therese.

Lobster is a family affair, and the lobsters Therese hauls out of the ocean become the lobster dinners for patrons at her husband’s restaurant, The Anchor Pub.  An icon in Beverly, Massachusetts this restaurant serves up lobster lunch and dinners to 1000’s of visitors each summer.  Fresh lobster is always on the menu.

Captain Ryan – Young Fisherman from Gloucester

Captain Ryan

Ryan fishes year round out of the maritime port of Gloucester, Massachusetts.  First allowed aboard a commercial lobster boat at the age of 11 with a student license, Ryan was 4 years old when he first “play set” lobster traps in a little skiff.  As a committed and hard working lobster fisherman today, Ryan has grown to fit perfectly with his boat name No Excuses.

When asked about what makes him happiest about lobster fishing for a living, this college graduate speaks passionately about working in a natural environment.  “Taking in everything around you and visually seeing the weather…I see about every sunrise and every sunset.”  For those of us with office jobs, this sounds pretty sweet!

Boat tours provided by a lobster fisherman – Boothbay Harbor

Take a trip.

Captain Larry catches lobsters off the waters of Boothbay Harbor, Maine and also charters educational and sightseeing tours.  Captain Bruce is his business partner who sails alongside him during the consumer trips, providing an up close and personal view of catching lobster. During the hour and a half they are out on the boat, Larry and Bruce haul lobster and teach about catch requirements and sustainability efforts.

They measure all lobsters with a lobster gauge and throw the undersized lobsters back. If a lobster is too small, it is not ready for harvest it goes back into the ocean. If it’s too big it goes back too. “Maine is the only state that has a maximum size,” says Bruce. Larger lobsters mean more eggs, which helps the lobster populations.

Learn more about the Maine lobsterman – Loves what he does

Captain John, Lobster Fisherman

A father of five, John is quick to say he choose the simple life but the “ simple life is not so simple.”  His family and lobster business keep him extremely busy.  As an active lobster fisherman, John is also the President of a marketing co-op called Calendar Islands.  It’s rare to see John without a smile, his love for life is written all over his face.

John is one of the lobster fishermen with independent lobster boats who make up Calendar Island’s co-op.  Each of the lobstermen owns a piece of the company providing ownership of the process from boat to plate.  Calendar Islands helps to turn the lobster caught by John and his fellow fishermen into gourmet, ready-to-eat lobster delights found in local USA supermarkets.

Fishing Lobster – Long Time Sandwich Love Affair

Loves his job!

Motoring out to the end of the Cape Cod Canal to go fishing, this lobster fisherman is serious amongst the beautiful scenery. Wearing a knife attached to his waders, he takes safety as first rule of thumb. He tells the story of how they lost a fishermen hauling traps last summer, when his line went overboard and they went down as well. The knife is a constant reminder and safety precaution against the dangers of working at sea.

Despite the long hours and wet conditions of catching lobster for a living, Captain Dave is happiest out on the water. “It’s an adventure every time you go out. You never know what you are going to catch and you are your own boss. You either make or break yourself.” A sentiment echoed with every lobster fishermen from Cape Cod up to North Atlantic Canada. Their daily rituals involve a strong faith of “fish and you will receive”, with a constant adherence to keeping only the lobsters that meet size requirements by law.

A sustainable fishery is always top of mind, and like many lobster fishermen, long days at sea are coupled with equally hard work on land. As secretary/treasurer of Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Dave also serves on the Board of Directors of the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation – truly working for every lobster fishermen and a better industry for all.

Meet Ryan – A Lobster Fisherman from Rockport

Started Lobstering as a Young Boy

Growing up among the scenic waters of the Rockport area, Ryan used to skip school to go out on the water.  Since the age of 12 and his first boat (a dinghy), he would be careful to not be seen by his father – who was nearby catching lobster.

“It’s in my blood, I just fell in love with it.”   Lobstermen own their own boats, and Ryan is no exception.  As captain of his own livelihood, he works extremely hard to stay afloat and manage the 800 lobster traps he is licensed for.  With a daily wake up call of 4 a.m. and a floating office, lobstering is truly a labor of love.

p.s.  Ryan’s dog Jacoby is named after Boston Red Sox center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, and was star of our day!  He certainly loves the water and jumped in the harbor during shooting.

 

It’s True – Fishing Lobster in Boston Harbor

Meet Captain Steve

As President of Boston Harbor’s Lobstermen’s Association and a weekend warrior selling lobster direct from the wharf, this lobster fisherman is quoted as saying, “If I fail in life it will be my own doing.” Watching him sell lobster to long lines of consumers on a Saturday afternoon (from the back of his boat), there is no doubt he is committed to making lobster a true living and passion. The day we visited him at the dock, he was assisted by his wife and two daughters. A true family effort.

One of the unique aspects of Steve’s lobster fishing in Boston Harbor is the fact that he can’t use buoys to mark his traps. Instead he locates his lobster traps through GPS tracking and then hoists them up by a long heavy grapple hook. Watching this process can make your arms “ache”.

Meet Jarrett in New Bedford – The State’s Largest Seafood Port!

Started Lobster Fishing as a Young Teen

Having worked on lobster boats since he was 13, Jarrett has spent almost thirty years in the business. Like lobster fishermen along the Atlantic coast, Jarrett has a ton of heart for the business and life. His boat Cynthia Lee is named after his wife.

As a second-generation fisherman in Massachusetts, Jarrett plays an active role in the state’s ongoing lobster legislation. He keeps his boat in New Bedford Harbor, which remains the largest fishing port in the United States.  New Bedford boasts fish landings values at approximately $369 million (of which lobster plays a part).

Meet This Lobsterman from Chatham

Most lobster fishermen come from families of fishers, but not our lobster hero Kurt.

He decided to fish lobster at an early age and today hauls impressive amounts from a scenic mid Cape Cod location. Kurt ties up near the Chatham Municipal Fish Pier, a virtual fish lover’s haven where local and tourists alike watch day boats unload their catch of fish and lobster.

Aptly named Time Bandit, Kurt’s lobster boat helps to haul a mix of wood and metal traps (a rarity in Massachusetts). Due to the sandy bottom vs. a rockier coast outside the cape, he believes the wooden traps perform better in the more shallow waters. During the colder winter months, Kurt actually makes his own wooden traps in preparation for the busy fishing season.

 

Meet Captain Todd – A Plymouth Lobster Fisherman

A 3 a.m. Wake Up Call

With a 3 a.m. wake up call, Todd moors in Plymouth Harbor.  He arrives at the boat by 4 a.m. and then steams 2 hours out to sea, to reach his traps.  For anyone via land or sea, it’s a very long commute.

Todd is used to hard work, and gained his first boat for $20 bucks.  He found the boat  buried in the snow after the Blizzard of 1978.  Much has changed since then, but Todd has always loved the sea.  Quoting his father, “Some people hear the mermaid, and some people don’t.”  Todd is one of those people, and claims that catching lobster on a snowy day is one of the most beautiful and peaceful times to fish.

Today, Todd has a large boat and that means big overhead.  His vessel burns 80 gallons a day in gas and the cost of maintaining his boat and gear continues to rise.  Despite economic conditions, Todd continues to fish lobster for a living and can’t imagine doing anything else.