See the faces and stories of the Catch a Piece of Maine lobstermen. Learn first hand who will be tending your lobster trap and harvesting your lobster dinners. Let us show you the passion and excitement of our way of life.
Captain John Ready
Boat Name: Miss Susan
With a bucket of bait in one hand and fuel in the other, I walk down the rocky beach to my small skiff waiting at the ocean's edge. The boat skims gently through the glassy surface. I am headed for the familiar green and white buoy bobbing in the running tide, which I eagerly grasp. As the trap surfaces, I anxiously wait to see its daily treasure. My hand reaches in the trap between the snapping tails and crushing claws to measure my first lobster. I am in my element!
This scenario started when I was 8 years old, eagerly getting up at 4 a.m. to go lobstering with my Uncle Ted. We fished traps in Casco Bay from Portland Head Light to Two Lights Lighthouse. I am so grateful to him for teaching me not only how to lobster, but sharing with me his love of the lobsterman's life and respect for the ocean.
I lobstered all through high school. While my friends were getting jobs at restaurants or mowing lawns, I was lobstering. While in college, I built lobster traps in my dorm room at Northeastern University. I entered their business plan competition with the idea of "Lobster to Your Door", which not only won me a prize, but helped me start my own business, Ready Seafood.
I feel as excited today when I climb aboard my 40-foot offshore lobster boat Miss Susan, as I did when I started in my 16-foot wooden skiff. Of all my business endeavors, I have never experienced the passion that I feel when I am lobstering.
Captain Brendan Ready
Boat Name: Miss Susan
When I was in third grade sitting on the floor of Mr. William's classroom in Cape Elizabeth Elementary School, he asked, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" Some kids answered that they wanted to be a fireman, a lawyer, or a doctor. "I want be a lobsterman!" I said.
I started lobstering with my older brother Johnny at age 8, in an old wooden boat equipped with an eight horsepower Mercury outboard engine. We kept our boat in a small protected cove in Cape Elizabeth, Maine named Alewife Cove. To my brother and I, Alewife Cove was our Never Never Land. It was a place where we would never grew old and we never wanted to leave. Every morning as the sun rose, we rowed out to our boat and set out for another adventure of hauling traps, never knowing what surprises the day would bring.
I continued to lobster throughout high school, buying a new boat, traps and an old 1989 Jeep Comanche. I fished 350 traps during my last year in high school, waking up before sunrise to haul traps and make it to school by 8:00 am.
One of the hardest decisions in my life was to leave the life of a lobstermen and attend college. I wanted to stay and continue lobstering, but thanks to encouragement from my mother and father, I attended Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. It was a decision that I am thankful for everyday. I spent four years meeting new people, learning, and having fun. I continued to lobster during the summers back in Alewife Cove and study during the fall, winter, and spring.
Two weeks before I graduated college, I was sitting at a desk in Professor Dahlin's classroom and he asked what we were going to do when we graduated. Some students said they wanted to be a financial analyst, a pharmaceutical salesman, or attend medical school. I stood up and said I wanted to be a lobsterman.
I'm 25 years old and living my dream. My whole life I've found nothing that compares to the excitement, freedom, and independence of the life on the water. I've seen opportunities at a life outside lobstering, but none of those opportunities would make me as happy as I am now. I'm proud to live in Maine and be apart of such a special way of life. I hope everyone gets a chance to be apart of our Never Never Land.
Captain Curt Brown
Boat Name: Alewife Cove
I've caught lobsters since I was a little boy. Some of my first memories helping my father and my cousins pull traps off the shore of Cape Elizabeth. By the time I was in high school I had my own little lobster boat, an 18 foot pointer named Celia (my Mom's middle name) and 100 traps. I was hooked.
The Maine coast is a special place and lobstering enabled me to experience the ocean in a way not many can. Every summer while my friends were washing dishes or mowing lawns, I got out on the water every day in my boat and caught lobsters. I've seen creatures come up in my traps that would boggle your mind.
As the years passed it became clear that lobstering is a very difficult way to make a living. It is back breaking work that takes a toll on your body and while the money can be good, it is not a guaranteed paycheck. That being said, it is not something you can just walk away from. Last year I finished two master's degrees at the University of Maine, one in marine biology and one in marine policy. I also nearly died lobstering when a swell capsized my boat. I am a lobsterman and a scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. On any given day I am either catching lobsters or studying them. Not a bad gig.
There is something about spending time out on the water that becomes a part of you. Maybe it is the sun exploding up over the water on a summer day or maybe it is the ice hanging off my nose that first freezing day of the winter. Or maybe it is just knowing that I'm doing what I love to do.
The important lesson I learned from nearly dying last year is that life is short, and if you are not doing what you love to do, you're just wasting time. Let me catch your dinner this month. Go ahead and Catch a Piece of Maine.
Captain Bobby Springer
Boat Name: Bridget & Mary
Bobby has been lobstering literally since he was a baby. He watched his father from his crib on his Dad's lobster boat. Since the age of five this third generation lobsterman (one of only two third generation lobstermen in Portland) has been hauling traps to make his living.
Bobby bought his grandfather's 31-foot lobster boat the Northeaster at age 17. He went to class, and then hauled traps until dark making $ 800 per day doing what he loved to do. Bobby saved his money and then upgraded to a larger boat named, November Rain and fished with it for 5 years.
While Bobby had to live in a trailer with his mother in high school, this savvy investor saved enough money to buy his first house at age 20. By age 22 he was buying properties and investing in real estate.
Not all of Bobby's money was invested on land. In 1999 he bought the Misty Dawn, a 42 Wesmac style lobster boat. At the time, it was one of the first $200,000 lobster boats around. He had the navigation knowledge and gear to go lobstering up to 30-40 miles offshore.
While being that far from the coast offers amazing sights, like the day a couple winters ago when he saw a killer whale in the gulf of Maine, another day he was 35 miles offshore when his propane tank on the boat exploded and nearly killed him and the crew.
Bobby credits his success to being extremely hard working, This wise lobster boat captain says, "If you do the work, you make a living. Nothing more, nothing less."
Captain Ted Gilfillan
Boat Name: Dyer Point
Life is full of choices, and one of my most rewarding choices has been to lobster. I started lobstering out of a small skiff over thirty years ago. After owning many different lobster boats, some big, some small, I am right back where I started. I find using a small lobster boat allows me to fish in shallow waters where bigger boats don't dare to go.
To borrow a phrase from Forest Gump, "Lobstering is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna catch."
Captain Pete Barton
Boat Name: Hootin N' Haulin
I first became interested in lobstering while helping Captain Curt's younger brother on his boat. Later that year I acquired my lobster license, got a boat, and started fishing. My first boat was named the Green Monster, an old wooden skiff, and I bought it for 300 dollars.
As they say, "you get what you pay for", the Green Monster proved to be a very leaky vessel. I made it through my first season and was able to save enough money to buy more traps and upgrade to a better boat.
That winter, in high school technology class, I built my current boat; Hootin' 'N Haulin'. I now haul 150 traps by hand out of my skiff, and enjoy fishing, "up in the bushes" (shallow waters) where the nice lobsters hide.
I look forward to each day of lobstering, and to each year in which I can grow my business, learn more tricks of the trade, and catch more and more lobsters. I wouldn't give up the job of lobstering for a million bucks!