When Stern Lines started in 2012, we never really envisioned where our small Maine based business would take us! Part of this adventure includes meeting some amazing Maine lobster fishermenalong the way. A major part of what we do at Stern Lines relies upon reclaiming and recycling lobster rope from over 40 different lobster fishermenhere in Maine. One of those fishermen, is Nick Perreault. Nick has not only been successful in Downeast Maine lobstering, but has also garnered much attention on Social Media/Instagram with the successful creation of @maine_lobsterfishermen.
Anyone who knows a lobster fishermanhere in Maine, is well aware of how busy their workload is year round! So we are greatly appreciative for Nick’s time and sharing his adventures both on the Atlantic Ocean and his successes with his highly popular “all things Maine lobster” Instagram account!
Hey Nick! Tell us a little bit about your life Downeast lobstering.
I am the owner/operator of F/V Invictus in Jonesport & I started my journey in the lobster business back in 2006. I first worked the stern summers during high school. I didn't intend to make lobstering a career but I was quickly hooked. After years in the stern of a lobster boat, I finally pursued my commercial lobster license. Finally in 2015, I bought my first boat and started fishing on my own. As of the 2019 season, I fish inside the 3-mile line and my season typically lasts from June to November. Beyond lobstering, I keep busy year round as I hold both a Maine scallop & elver license.
Is there a typical “ day in the life” of a Maine lobsterman...? My guess is there isn’t, so what are some highs and lows of lobstering?
You are absolutely right, there isn't a typical day in our line of work. Every day is different and that's the beauty and ultimately, the challenge of the job. There is no shortage of highs and lows. For me personally, the biggest 'high' of the job comes every summer when I get the first good shedder haul of the season. There is just something magical about that time of the year. When that first run of shedders hits inshore, the feeling in the air is palpable. The weather is at it's best and you finally start to reap the rewards of getting gear ready and set.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of obstacles in our way daily but the single biggest is most definitely mother nature (fog, high winds, big tides, temps etc). The weather has a direct impact on every aspect of our job so it can really work against you and compound the other challenges you are facing. Your only choice is to stay on the mooring or grind through what Mother Nature brings our way on the open water. Working in unfavorable weather isn't fun by any means but after the workday is over, you feel a sense of accomplishment for grinding through it and not allowing it to hinder you from making a paycheck.
It seems that your passion to capture amazing photos of Maine lobstering led you to create @maine_lobsterfishermen of Instagram. What inspired you to create Maine’s LARGEST social media account that shares the ‘visual’ life of Maine lobster men and women?
The inspiration for @maine_lobsterfishermen really came from my travels around the United States. Whenever my line of work as a lobster fisherman would come up in conversation with people outside of Maine, it would bring about fascination and a multitude of questions from those folks, especially in land-locked states. Everywhere I went, people were quite familiar with Maine lobster as a dish but they had little knowledge about what goes into catching lobster. Through these interactions I realized just how unique the life of a Maine lobster fisherman is and that we have a story worth telling.
So, then I began to flirt with the idea of documenting Maine's lobster fishery myself but at the time I did not know exactly how I would go about it. I simply knew it was an endeavor I wanted to attempt. I eventually settled on documenting Maine's lobster fishery through social media posts as I found that to be the most effective way to reach folks on a large scale. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. I wanted seafood lovers on the outside to see the world of lobster fishing as we see it daily as fishermen. Until recent times, most lobstering photography simply consisted of photos of boats on moorings taken from the shoreline. What makes our page interesting is that the majority of the photos taken ARE BY real Maine lobstermen on the job. We take followers on a visual journey beyond the harbors and out to sea where the action really happens.
Your IG has really gained notoriety in recent years with ‘Mainers, the commercial fishing industry and folks who simply love everything Maine lobstering? What’s next for you and @maine_lobstermen of IG?
Right now, the goal is to venture outside of Instagram and expand to other platforms and mediums. Aside from working towards establishing Maine Lobster Fishermen on other social media platforms, we have a podcast in the works! The page was originally started by two other fishermen and myself but for quite sometime now it has been a one-man show, so progress has been slow due to the fact I fish full-time. I have a couple of folks coming onboard to help facilitate new growth so our project will most certainly continue to expand.
We have worked with you for almost 4 or 5 years now. We love the connection of reclaiming and recycling old lobster rope from you and your peers. What’s your take on the products companies, like Stern Lines have done to create Maine made products from your old gear?
I think it's great! Your rope mats for example really give folks a tangible piece of Maine. Lobster fishing is Maine's biggest industry and is an integral part of Maine's heritage. The rope used in your mats have been used by real Maine lobster fishermen to catch lobsters over the course of multiple seasons. To take that rope & re-purpose it instead of sending it to the burn pile is absolutely awesome. Every piece of rope used in your products has a story attached to it & it's great to see that preserved.
Finally, what does being raised and living your life in Maine mean to you?
To me being a Mainer truly exemplifies being independent and resilient. Maine is a tough state to make a living and survive in, but we do it generation after generation and we continue to build strong communities that are vested in preserving the Maine way of life. Mainers hold onto that tradition of fierce independence, hard work and the will to weather whatever storm comes our way.
Does anyone else get sad (read: devastated) when it’s time for the Christmas tree to come down? I don’t know about you, but it’s one of the worst feelings for me! November and December is a time filled with such joy and festivity, and when that all comes to an end, it can feel a little abrupt.