Today was absolutely our best day so far. I had been waiting for the lobster boat experience, and I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting. But there were definitely some surprises. I know how curious everyone must be. Us midwesterners don’t have a lot of lobstering in our daily lives, so here it is folks. Lobster fishing for dummies.
First, you’re gonna need to get on a lobster boat. Trust me, it’ll make your life a lot easier later. It helps if the sun is shining and the temperature isn’t incredibly cold, because you’re going to be touching some lobsters later, and those babies are cold blooded and living at the bottom of the frigid ocean.
(I know that’s not the most practical picture of a lobster boat. Sorry, this is still a photography trip.)
Next, you’re going to boat out to the traps you keep and somehow manage to tell them apart from the gazillion other traps that other lobstermen and lobsterwomen have laid out. Bonus: your buoys and all of the others will look basically identical, as will the landscape and the ocean. And you’re not using a GPS.
There is good news! If you’re lucky (and some lobstermen aren’t), you’ll have a contraption on the side of your boat that’ll pull the lobster traps in for you. If you’re not so lucky, you’re going to have to crank all that rope up by hand. Also, you’re going to soak yourself with the aforementioned freezing sea water if you don’t have the proper gear. This includes big old rain boots, a pair of… those orange things, and some rubber gloves because those suckers can pinch. A very strong Maine accent also doesn’t hurt.
Once you’re dressed appropriately, you manage to locate your traps, and have pulled your traps up onto the side of your boat (two with every buoy), you can start checking out your lobsters. If you’re Bobby (pictured above), you’ll just pull the lobsters out of the trap and chuck them onto the side of the boat with no regard for their feelings. Bobby says lobsters don’t have feelings though, because “they’ll bite ya and won’t feel bat at all.”
You use your handy measuring tool to see if the lobsters have reached maturity (5-7 years). If they’re too short you have to throw them back. One more molt in about a month or so and lobster fishing will be a whole different game–lobsters that are right on the edge of maturity will grow a half inch with their next molt.
The other time you can’t take them is when they’re bearing eggs, or if they’ve laid eggs in the past. Lobstermen will put notch in the lobster’s tail with a knife to mark them as breeders. Once you have your lobsters, you should watch out for their pinchers by grabbing them in the middle of their back. If you forget about that, at least you have the gloves.
So once you check three or four of your traps and pull out the good ones, you have to stop them from fighting back. Take your handy rubberbanding tool, pick up your lobsters by the back, put it on their, twist the tool, and pull. Now your lobsters that weren’t particularly dangerous to begin with will be completely harmless!
There you have it, midwesterners. Just take your bucket of lobsters and have them for dinner like we just did. Steam them up until they’re red (about 8 minutes). Melt a lot of butter and if you’re brave, eat the green stuff and pretend it’s guacamole (it’s not. It’s digested food). I would give you the step by step on how to get all the meat out, but that’s a whole other story.