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Trap Day on Monhegan

Trap Day on Monhegan
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One of Boynton’s crew members, Dr. Robert Stahl, a physician who spends May to November on Monhegan, remarks, “Don’t you think we’d be better off if they stopped regulating fishing so much and started regulating banks more?” On the wharf, Mattie Thomson finishes loading his boat. “Now we go home and bag bait,” he sighs, mindful of the increasing costs of doing business. “Just stuff the bait bags about the size of a softball,” he instructs his crew. “Don’t make ‘em huge.”

In the predawn light of the following morning, each captain and his crew ride uneasily aboard their vessels, waiting for the first faint hint of the break of day, heralding the beginning of a new and much-anticipated season. The excitement in this small anchorage is palpable in the crackle of nervous banter over the VHF radios. The most experienced captains will head to Monhegan’s exposed backshores to set their traps close in to the underwater cliffs, where the first day’s lobster hauls are always legendary.

Then as the gray dawn slowly opens, the radio crackles again with Sherm Stanley’s laconic transmission: “Let’s go.” Everyone throttles up and leans into the unknown of a new season.

Read more on the maritime culture and conservation of Maine’s offshore communities: islandinstitute.org

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