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C. F. A. reporter goes lobster fishing

A spectacular sunrise.
A spectacular sunrise.

DIGBY, NS – I went lobster fishing for the first time May 19.

Soon after moving to Digby, I met my friends Maria and Chris Hersey. Chris, captain of the Miss Addie, suggested I go with them on a fishing trip once the weather got warmer.

Things warmed up and when Maria called asking if I wanted to go out May 19, I said alright: let’s do this.

Here’s the thing – I genuinely loved it and can’t wait to get back out on the water.

My day began aboard the Miss Addie at 3 a.m. and lasted until 4 p.m. and went a little something like this:

 

3 a.m.: The trip begins

We set out promptly at 3 a.m. and drove for an hour and a half before arriving at the first traps.

First mate Spencer Wyatt and second mate Jeremy Watkins were busy at work before the sun even appeared, getting bait ready and things organized.

As someone who enjoys sleep, I asked the guys how they got out of bed so early every morning.

“It’s like any job,” said Wyatt.

“Your body gets used to it.”

Watkins agreed, but said it isn’t always so easy.

“Sometimes you really just want to carve your brain right out,” he said.

I have to confess, at first I agreed. Getting up at 3 a.m. is a rare occurrence for me.

By 4:30 a.m. the crew had started hauling traps in, placing bait and putting them back in. The first of 27 lines of traps was done by 4:50 a.m.

At 5 a.m., the sun appeared.

“This is definitely one of the perks,” said Wyatt.

The sun on the water made the ocean look like liquid marble.

 

6 a.m.: the routine sets in

By this time I thought I had a clear idea of how the day was going to go. By 7:30, I’d started helping out in the small way I could: banding the lobsters. More on that later.

I’d realized my theory that I don’t get seasick was actually correct and felt pretty cool about that.

What I hadn’t realized was that my sealegs aren’t quite top notch. That, combined with the rubber boots I was wearing, made my first hours on the water wobbly ones.

Things got better as the day pressed on and I even hazarded letting go of the iron bar I’d bonded myself to.

Baby steps, am I right?

The beauty of the sun’s reflection on the water blew me away. It was stark but perfect.

I also learned some lobster trivia, courtesy of my tutor-du-jour Wyatt, who told me orange lobsters live in shallower, warmer waters and are faster, while darker lobsters live in deeper, colder waters and move more slowly.

As we pulled the lobster up, it was evident that lobsters are just as unique as people. Some had five antennas, some were without claws and some were multi-coloured.

This became evident when the orange lobsters kept trying to pinch me more than the black ones. More on that later.

 

10 a.m.: the halfway point

I asked Hersey when he first started fishing.

“I first went out fishing with my dad when I was around nine,” he said.

“I’ve been doing it fulltime since I graduated high school. I enjoy it – I like being out on the water.”

When I asked if this was a regular day for waves, Hersey smiled.

“You know it’s a good day when the boat isn’t rocking side to side,” he said.

I’d also noticed by this point that things start to seize up a little after almost three hours of lobster claw banding.

On top of that, I’d gotten familiar with the freakish flexibility of lobsters. They bend up, they bend down: they go right, and then left.

Well, at least the orange ones do.

The seagulls didn't appear til mid morning, but when they finally showed up they came in literal flocks, eager to eat the bait thrown in the water.

They can also be sneaky. I didn’t get pinched but had ten very close encounters with pincher claws.

Some lobsters were also much stronger than others. The big ones were sometimes the easiest to band.

By this point in the day, I’d completely lost my sense of direction. With the sun in the middle of the sky, I couldn’t tell which way we were heading, but it was a moot point – I was out at sea and didn’t even care.

 

2:30 p.m.: heading back to shore

After spending the better part of ten hours on the water and banding lobsters, I felt terrific yet tired.

Six major things stuck out from the day as we made our journey back home:

FACT #1: Dressing in layers was a fantastic idea.

Because yes, temperatures fluctuate, especially out on the water.

FACT #2: Sunrises at sea are the best sunrises around

I live right on the water and have seen my share of Digby sunrises. None of them compare to seeing it from the water.

FACT #3: Fishing isn’t cruel

Most lobsters that have reached the size where they are kept and sold are seven years old.

A sculpin, one of several funky fish that came up with the lobster.

FACT #4: There are some funky fish in the ocean

I had no idea the fish in the Bay of Fundy and St. Mary’s Bay are so exotic looking. Sculpins in particular reminded me of tropical lionfish. These waters are an ecosystem with huge biodiversity that should be protected.

FACT #5: I love lobster fishing

I had no way of knowing how much fun this would be. Part of that was being out on the water with an amazing crew, but also just being in the fresh air and having amazing weather to do it in.

FACT #6: Fishing is hard work

I respect the heck out of what these people do. They deserve every single dollar they make. Fishing is not only laborious but also taxing on your joints, your feet and your mind.

FACT #7: Safety is important

The most important thing when it comes to lobster fishing, or any fishing, is safety.  Wear PDFs and make sure all of your safety equipment is accessible and in working order.

And thus, my first trip to sea concluded. Stay tuned for the second!

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