LOBSTER FISHING OUT OF SCITUATE

June

June 6: short day, poor catch. Bait was pretty frozen; fingers numb first 2-3 trawls. Doug on weather watch through the weekend.
June 7: Choppy on the water, winds around 12 knots. Quiet day, little talk, very few lobsters. Worked quick: had 1st 5 trawls in before 9:00, and last in before 2:00. 15 trawls (300 traps) total. Doug agreeable, in spite of how off the fishing seemed to be. He told me not to expect much the month of June. We talked about mortality, immoral catholic priests, Maine, etc.
June 8: Partly sunny, 78*. Best fishing day to-date weather-wise anyway.
June 9: Off today, and good for us. Drove to Kennebunkport Maine with Joy, visiting with Cecily (step mom), Claire (artist-friend), and Corey (Joy’s cousin).
June 11: Lobsters are molting/hiding, so not much action. Pulled 10 trawls (200 traps) which yielded just 68 keepers. Doug reminded me that we’re still in “pre-season”. We’ve been averaging 70-100 lobsters per day this month, and we’ve been going out just 3-4 days a week. No fishing tomorrow.
— Bob's notes
The Captain, Doug, and his seasoned first mate, Sassy. She's an awesome companion to have aboard and knows the ropes ...

The Captain, Doug, and his seasoned first mate, Sassy. She's an awesome companion to have aboard and knows the ropes ...

I digress ...

I digress ...

... and Remy the youngster on her first trip out. She's literally on a short leash, but seems to be a quick learner. Really cute, and fun to have around.

... and Remy the youngster on her first trip out. She's literally on a short leash, but seems to be a quick learner. Really cute, and fun to have around.

... our family's old girl has got some personality, too!

... our family's old girl has got some personality, too!

Lobstermen are Dog People

Lobstermen are Dog People


June 13: Chilly, dry, winds 10-15 with gusts to 20. Waves big and rollers. Balancing act today, and frustrating for Doug. 1) catch was only 33 lobsters out of 9 trawls (180 traps). Most disappointing of season. 2) Doug’s new boat seems to be underperforming when seas are big, which is pissing him off. It has a herky-jerky roll on the beam and to windward. By the end of today he was cursing up-down and all around.
June 16: I was supposed to be off today, but nicer day was forecasted so Doug called me in last night. The day was warm/hot but generally pleasant. EXCEPT for the bait, of which we had three different varieties: 1) salmon heads (really easy); 2) pogies (easy); 3) monk fish (a friggin’ nightmare; huge, wide heads & rows of nasty teeth. An exceptional pain in the ass). Took all day to find my “baiting rhythm”, and I went home with tiny punctures up-and-down my wrists. Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and Monday winds are forecasted to reach 20 knots, so I’m off next 2 days.
June 19: Short day, done by 1:15. Pulled 9 trawls (180 traps) and harvested 72 lobsters. Pogies were the bait-of-the-day ... clean and simple. Temp, wind and seas were fair today. I love the off shore cool breeze versus the warmer on shore hotter breeze.
— Bob's notes
Hauling 200-300 traps a day for some reason hasn't been kind to my right arm, so I took a calf-length compression sock and cut it at the ankle, and and wear it on my wrist. Seems to do the trick.

Hauling 200-300 traps a day for some reason hasn't been kind to my right arm, so I took a calf-length compression sock and cut it at the ankle, and and wear it on my wrist. Seems to do the trick.

This is what a butt-ugly monk fish looks like.

This is what a butt-ugly monk fish looks like.

Some bait - like monk and skate - have needle-sharp teethe that cut through my gloves. I asked Doug to give me a heads-up the next time he was thinking about getting monk so that I'd have enough time to call in sick.

Some bait - like monk and skate - have needle-sharp teethe that cut through my gloves. I asked Doug to give me a heads-up the next time he was thinking about getting monk so that I'd have enough time to call in sick.

This is what my butt-ugly index finger looked like after it was snared by the teeth of the butt-ugly monk fish. Antibiotics were prescribed, but I was placed on sick-leave for 4 days.

This is what my butt-ugly index finger looked like after it was snared by the teeth of the butt-ugly monk fish. Antibiotics were prescribed, but I was placed on sick-leave for 4 days.

June 20: Another nice day weather-wise. Slight breeze and temp around 70*. Pulled 13 trawls, harvested 103 lobsters. Remy (Doug’s pup) was on board today, and like Sassy, is great to have around. Remy’s a youngster who wants to help his “Dad”, and the thing is: she thinks she’s truly helping. My left shoulder through forearm was crushing my game today; really painful. After fishing I followed Doug to his home and spent a little time on his former boat, removing the Furuno from the superstructure,. It’s a good looking boat ... lots of character and great smells.
June 21: another pleasant weather day, but loaded monk, skate and pogie for bait. When I lowered the monk/skate barrel from the pier and onto the boat, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good start to the day. We powered through the nasty stuff first (with annoying stabs on my fingers from the monk’s teeth), then finished the day with the much easier pogie. Slim pickings today - 85 lobster, 14 trawls. Doug thinks there should be a moratorium on lobster fishing through the molting period because the soft shell lobsters are most vulnerable. Plus soft shells can’t be air freighted. No fishing next three days.
June 24: Infection in my right hand from a monk fish bite has put me on “sick leave” until
Wednesday.
— Bob's notes
Monday, June 18: winds blowing at a steady 20 knots ...

Monday, June 18: winds blowing at a steady 20 knots ...

... with a chop of 3.6 feet make conditions difficult and less safe, so no fishing on days like that.

... with a chop of 3.6 feet make conditions difficult and less safe, so no fishing on days like that.

June 27: Been off for 5 days, partly because of weather, mostly because of the bait poisoning. It was great to be back on the water. Overcast with filtered sun. This morning winds were at 10-12 and seas a bit bumpy; by early afternoon only a slight breeze and seas flattened. Baited with salmon heads today. Hauled 12 (13?) trawls, and the harvest was the best we’ve seen in weeks (Doug credits the nasty monk fish that poisoned me for the stronger catch!), so maybe the molters are coming out of hiding. We caught a few of soft shell; their armor at this point flexes like a container of bottled water. Rain with lightning and high winds forecasted tomorrow, so no fishing.
— Bob's notes
Doug, greeting an old friend.

Doug, greeting an old friend.

                            Lobster 101: Molting

Lobsters don’t grow the way people do. Unlike humans, a lobster has a rigid exoskeleton that it must get rid of before it can grow any larger.

So before molting, lobsters reduce the size of their extremities by drawing water from them so their old shell isn’t too tight. Then, the shell breaks between the tail and the body (called the carapace). Lobsters will flex their bodies back and forth and eventually back out of their old shell. Without its shell, a lobster is soft and squishy. Lobsters that have just molted are called “jellies”.

During the molting and post-molt period, it is vital for lobsters to stay hidden because they are unable to protect themselves when they lack a hard exoskeleton. There is no definite period for how long it takes the new shell to harden, but there are some factors that influence the speed of calcification. The water temperature affects the lobster’s growth rate and also the rate a new shell will harden; warmer water promotes growth while cold water slows it down. Sometimes lobsters will eat their old shells to obtain more calcium, speeding up the hardening of their new shell. Before a new shell hardens, lobsters will absorb extra water to make sure the new shell is big enough to allow room to grow.

Within the first five to seven years of its life (approximately the time it takes to weigh a pound), a lobster may shed its shell up to 25 times. However, as the lobster gets bigger, the number of molting events decreases. Adult lobsters only molt about once a year to once every two years. Because lobsters molt, they are able to regenerate lost limbs. Each time a new molt is formed, the regenerating limb looks more like the original. Lobsters can even regenerate their eyes and antennae.
— Maine Lobsterman's Community Alliance

This is a photo of a "jelly". The blue circle is the claw of the lobster shell left behind. The green arrow is the "jelly" whose new shell will slowly harden. The month of June has been very lean as far as our catch has gone, as the molting lobsters are in hiding:

molting.jpg
A father's day gift from my daughter Laurie was a wide-angle attachment for my iPhone, so above ...

A father's day gift from my daughter Laurie was a wide-angle attachment for my iPhone, so above ...

... and in this photo, I'm just playing around.

... and in this photo, I'm just playing around.

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                               When Doug's not fishing, he's got a steady job back at his shop.