Things Flatlanders Say
There is a scene in The Ghost Trap where the characters talk about some of the more outlandish questions tourists have ever asked lobstermen...such as "why do all the boats point the same way?" and "What time of year do the deer turn into moose?" True stories, all of them..and that's why they made it into the book.
Well I belong to a private FB page for lobstermen and they shared this photo, along with more stories in the comments. Note: Names have been left off to protect the members' privacy.
"I was once asked if I set all my traps in the morning and then bring them all home at night."
"Lololol I was pulling a half tote of cod up the dock one time and a tourist looked in the tote and asked what kind of fish is that??? I replied codfish... her lady friend told me I was wrong... those are Trout 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂"
"My wife overheard a conversation between two tourist that went like this. "What are the painted objects floating in the water?" "They're lobster buoys, see how some are laying down and some are standing?' "Yes" "When a lobster walks in a trap it causes the buoy to stand, that's how lobstermen know which traps to haul." True story."
"Lmao... I was eating at the weather vane once and the guy in back of us was saying he knows everything about lobsters... so I listened he told his girlfriend for starters they don’t go any deeper than 20 feet... I stopped listening 😂😂😂"
Thanks to Bob Trapani of the American Lighthouse Foundation for this great pic of the Trap Tree, just lit this week. I still ours is the best :)
Who Has The Best Lobster Trap Tree?
Tomorrow night at 6 pm, my neighboring city of Rockland (known as the Lobster Capital of the World) will light up a special kind of Christmas tree.
It is constructed from approximately 152 wire lobster traps, supplied by Brooks Trap Mill in Thomaston, Maine. It is 30-feet tall and is topped with a five-foot fiberglass lobster known as "Rocky" and lit from the inside with 24 green 75W halogen lights that provide so much light that it can be seen clearly from Vinalhaven Island, eight miles across Penobscot Bay.
If you happen to be in Midcoast Maine prior to the holidays, don't miss it. It's kind of like our version of the World's Largest Ball of Twine.
Though some may beg to differ this isn't the best lobster trap tree in the world, I still say Rockland's is magnificent. Gloucester, MA started the trap tree tradition first in 1998; Rockland followed five years later. And last year, Beals, Maine claimed they were the best the best with their 50-foot tree.
What's your vote? And be nice.
The point is, the trap tree draws attention to the hard-working folks in our lobster industry and raises money for a good cause. Each year raffle tickets are sold for $50 each for a chance to win all the traps used to build the tree. Every year, a lobsterman wins the traps and uses them for the following season.
Go Rockland! See ya at the tree lighting.
My friend Ryan was dealt an incredible blow this week. His iconic boat, The Instigator, ripped from its mooring during the April 17 storm in 50-60 mile winds and "was chewed to death on granite teeth" up on the rocks.
The boat is a total loss. According to Ryan, "No boat that has gone onto those jagged pieces of granite has ever floated again."
This is nor ordinary fishing vessel. It represents his brand "Maine Buggin" and is the face of the Midcoast Lobster Races. True to his optimistic nature, however, he is not upset--and is already in talks with procuring another vessel in North Carolina.
"I'm going to make a positive out of a negative," he said. "That's all you can do."
As per custom, any boat he purchases can never be renamed "Instigator"--it's bad luck.
Story originally reported by Lynda Clancy, Village Soup.
The Deadly World of Lobstering
If this article tells you anything, lobstering is right up there with Alaskan crab fishing as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. 155 people died in the last decade on commercial fishing vessels nationally. Vessel disasters and crew members falling overboard were the leading causes of fatalities in this latest report. And at the end of this year, we just lost another one of our own Maine lobstermen when he got entangled in lobster line and was pulled overboard.
Maybe what I'm saying is patently obvious, but for so many people who came up this summer to specifically have their Maine lobster, I continue to post stories like these to show you exactly what goes into that steamed crustacean on that plate. It is a backbreaking, perilous profession and the men and women who are born into this life, work at it every day and put their lives at risk for this status symbol dish deserve a little attention for their efforts now and then.
This Thanksgiving and holiday season--it's time to give the poor turkey a breather. It has been the culinary icon of holidays since we were all young enough to maneuver a crayon around all five fingers on construction paper and call it art.
I live in a state where the one culinary icon that symbolizes prosperity--the Maine lobster--is the one export we rely on to get entire communities through our economically stagnant winters. Like everyone else, Mainers are going on Year Three of The Great Recession. In a rural state as ours, where jobs are increasingly scare, it's scary. The boat price of lobsters historically used to be high enough to allow a lobsterman to work hard six or seven months of the year--and sustain him over the course of the winter 'til it was time to start again in the spring.
Not in the last couple of years has this boat price per lobster been all that viable. I'm told, however, that this past season was "very good" and that "no one had a reason to complain." But does that mean even a good lobstering season will carry a fisherman financially through the
That means the guy who busted his butt all summer and fall to catch lobsters is now prospecting ways to plow driveways for the winter or work part-time in factories or do any kind of odd job he can to pay the bills to get through the winter.
It's not an easy or comfortable way to make a living--never was--but lobstering for so many is like farming--it's generationally taught and generationally ingrained. Once you're brought up in this lifestyle, you stick it out--through thick and thin.
The Maine lobster is one of the most coveted, succulent products that Maine has to offer, from an industry that was conservation-minded before the concept of a "sustainable food movement" even existed. Even Red Lobster, is rolling out a new marketing angle to let their customers feel as though they are smack dab in the middle of Bar Harbor eating real Maine lobster--and not some rock lobster tails farmed in Malaysia. Though there is not one Red Lobster restaurant located in Maine, they do buy and serve Maine lobster, along with other farmed varieties. Still, if you've tasted the real thing, culled from the coldest, cleanest ocean waters in the U.S., you will know why Maine lobster has earned its incontestable reputation.
So this holiday season, I'm making the case for Maine lobster and butter over turkey and giblets. (Go for the Maine crab and Maine shrimp while you're at it.) Some of my picks for the best places to buy lobster locally as well as to export to friends and family as gifts are as follows.
Feel free to comment on The Ghost Trap's Facebook page for places you recommend as well (I'm mostly listing Midcoast Maine). Let's keep this momentum going.
Next post? Best original lobster recipes to use this holiday season.
As promised, I will continue to feature the more fascinating Maine lobstermen that keep this industry alive and well. Meet Ginny Oliver. She'll give your grammy a run for her money. Story courtesy of The Free Press.
A Day in the Life of Maine Lobster Boat Racing
Columns and news about the subculture of Maine lobstering.