One of the nice things about living in Maine is that you can often get given stuff for free just by asking. This predates craigslist by several hundred years and is still going strong. All you need to do is be in contact with the right people and be willing to trade work or favors in return when needed. In most cases, the person to be in contact with is not necessarily the owner of what you need, rather the town extrovert, the person who likes to talk and talks to a lot of people, usually in the course of business or volunteer work. Just mention, “I need some good used lobster traps,” and for a favor, a bottle of wine or the promise of a few lobsters next summer (and the required few months of waiting while your request makes the rounds) you will hit paydirt.
I hit paydirt yesterday when my friend Chuck called to say he negotiated a deal for me. These traps look like they’ve been barely used and if I were to go out and buy new ones, they’d be close to $100 each. They even come with buoys and line. Count me one step closer to pulling in dozens of lobster dinners this summer! In addition, they lend a certain Downeast ambiance to my yard in the off season.
I’ve been reassured by several people that my gear will not be molested by other fishers, which is a big relief. Apparently a local state cop also puts out traps, and in an incident involving underwater cameras, the sole bad boy was caught and will not be re-offending. This is coupled with the growing awareness that traps are lobster feeding stations and more traps means more lobsters. Undersized lobsters come and go for free meals and notched or egg-bearing females and all under- or over-sized lobsters are let go when traps are hauled.
This means I need bait. At least two pounds per pound of legal lobster, at least according to what I’ve heard. Currently in the Maine Legislature there is a bill which will outlaw any bait which “is not part of the lobster’s natural diet”. This limits my bait choices to over-fished herring, which is the usual commercial bait, or whatever I can catch myself. Herring as bait is not willingly sold to 5-trap people like me, so if this bill passes I may be opening tins of tuna or frantically fishing for mackerel. Whatever happens, I’m one step closer now!