CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How


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Downeast, lobster hauls are up big. Return to the journey. To attract lobsters, Shaun McLennan fills bait bags with herring.

Meet Maine’s newest winter pest

Other oily fish have been used depending on abundance and price. In response to increasing pressures on bait fish such as herring, researchers are developing chemical attractants that may one day replace fish. Every lobsterman uses distinctly-colored buoys to mark the location of their traps. In an effort to maintain order, all lobster boats are required to display a buoy with their colors.


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If you look closely, you'll see the Sea Ryder's yellow and red buoy on a forward pole. While buoys are often attached to single traps, as many as ten or more traps can be laid at a time. Buoys mark the ends of these trap lines. Local knowledge helps lobstermen set their traps and buoys in common directions so that trap lines do not cross. This knowledge and respect for other's gear is crucial for a successful lobster harvest.

Lobstering has changed significantly in the past century. Where lobster traps were once pulled up by hand in smaller boats, winches on bigger, faster boats now help haul many traps in a row. Radar, GPS Global Positioning System , and other electronic equipment allow lobstermen to fish in fog and other conditions that once kept them in port. Combined with more sophisticated vessels, lobstermen have expanded their range and ability to efficiently harvest lobsters.

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Traps have also changed over the years. Fixing wooden traps during the winter months was once a routine part of every lobsterman's job. Today, plastic-coated wire traps offer lighter, durable alternatives that last significantly longer and require less maintenance than wooden traps. Because they do not degrade quickly if lost, bio-degradable vents are built into wire traps, allowing lobsters to eventually escape.

In Maine, lobstering areas are currently divided into zones of local control. Due to increased fishing pressure, lobsterman must now meet trap limits on the order of to traps depending on their fishing zone.

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A lobster cruise: The luckiest catch in Maine

Before the 's, as many as or more traps per boat were common, especially in the Casco Bay and southern areas. When many people think of Maine, those iconic lobsters he's pulling up in traps immediately come to mind. In a state of 1. That international interest in Maine lobster keeps Martin busy May through October filling Lucky Catch's three boats with tourists for scheduled and custom trips to explore Casco Bay around Portland Harbor. The view sailing out of the Old Port into the bay is a bit nicer than where he fishes commercially.

But the lobsters are the same, spending about seven years growing in the cold Maine waters until he's allowed to catch them.

Climate Change, and Cod, Are Causing One Heck of a Lobster Boom in Maine

The trip is "just a little slice of a day in the life of a lobsterman," he says, "because the traps we pick up are the same kind of traps that we use when we're commercial lobstering. As visitors pile onto his boat, they sometimes hesitate to pull lobsters out of the traps or bait the traps before dropping them back into the water. But Martin and his crew usually convince them to join in on the hard, but fun work. Most visitors eventually do pull up traps marked by his buoys, measure the lobsters to ensure they meet state regulations and snap rubber bands around the claws of the lobsters they keep.

They also learn a lot about lobster reproduction and how Maine keeps its lobster population healthy and growing.

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They almost look like little blackberries. Every time we catch a lobster with the eggs, we have to mark her as a breeding female. The lobstermen notch a scar into the breeding female's second tail flipper from the right, which protects her for life. And the larger they get, the more eggs they'll carry. Those big females need a similar sized male in order to mate. That's regulated by the length of the lobster's carapace, which is its hard upper shell.


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  8. To ensure there will be bigger males to mate with the bigger females, Maine requires that lobsters with carapaces measuring longer than five inches get thrown back. The state also requires that a lobster's carapace measures at least three-and-a-quarter inches, to allow the younger lobsters to grow to maturity. Throwing back the bigger male lobsters preserves some bigger males to mate with the big females. Once the traps are emptied, the orange bait bags are filled with four herring, and sometimes pogies seals hate the taste and tossed back into the water. They're typically left for three days.

    One keeper lobster per trap is a good catch.

    CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How
    CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How
    CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How
    CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How CATCH MORE LOBSTERS: Heres How
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