Well you know, to write the novel, I had to learn not only how lobster traps work but also what it would take to really thrash the sh** out of one--say in some dubious middle of the night situation. Disclaimer: I didn't actually go out in the middle of the night and thrash the sh** out of one.
Here at the 38th Annual Maine Fisherman's Forum, I wandered over to the Friendship Trap Co. booth to ask about the steel runners they had on display and how they worked with wire traps. Here, for the layman lobster aficianado, is how it works.
To sink a galvanized wire trap so that it stays on the bottom of the ocean, you need weight, but not so much weight that you throw out your poor, friggin achin' back just to lift a trap onto the rail.
When you're in your 40s and 50s
What you're looking at here are LiteLoad Runners, steel runners that attach to the bottom of the trap with a heavier density in the water. In the photo, they are showing how much these runners weigh once submerged. If you want to see how it really works along with a big burly lobsterman, check out the video here.
But basically, these LiteLoads will save your back and guys who've been lobster fishing all their lives and have a little extra to spend are likely choose these rather than the next two options.
When you're in your 30s.
As you can see this is a wire trap with concrete runners bolted right onto the bottom. Apparently PVC and concrete bolt-on runners are the medium range of weight. Let's say you've been lobstering since you were 12 and you might have tweaked your back on a couple of good keg stands or falling off a dock, but you haven't mangled yourself yet. There's still some usefulness to you and your wallet to go this route.
When you're in your 20s and teens.
This here, as you can see is about as old-school as you can get. Wire trap. A place for a brick. Add brick. The lobstermen of yore used to weigh their wooden oak traps down with bricks because obviously with wood, you need something to keep them from floating. But today, I'm told (and please comment if I've left anything out or said it wrong) that this is about as budget as you can get. Great for kids up and coming because they have backs like Superman.
So what's the best for an unstompable trap?
Here the nice gentleman from Friendship Trap Co. actually has a display that shows when he's standing on the bottom of a trap reinforced with bolt-on concrete, there's no give or sag when he steps upon it. He steps over to the next trap (to his left in the pic), only clad in oak runners and bam, it goes down like wilted lettuce. So, that's what I found out. If you don't want your traps to get the sh** thrashed out of them, outfit 'em in concrete.
Columns about the sub-culture of lobstering that K. Stephens has collaborated on with Maine lobstermen and guest bloggers.