Despite what people might think, not all Mainers know each other and not all fishermen know each other. But, then again, it’s a small state and the fishing community is even smaller, and after a while you do get to know a lot of people. It’s one of the many things I love most about being a fishing family and working for the fishing industry. I’ve gotten to know a lot of other families and fishermen’s wives that share the same values, concerns, and markers of success.
So, if I recall, I think I got to know the Staples family from Swan’s Island because way back Herman went to P.E.I. with Carroll. And then maybe I started following Carroll on Facebook and then he and his wife, Lindsay, came to a Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association event and now I know both of them and we all follow each other on social media; supporting, cheering, and sharing photos of our kids fishing. So, I asked Lindsay if she’d write something up about being a fisherman’s wife for this site because she and I feel similar about a lot of things that have to do with being a fisherman’s wife, and it’s important for us to be able to share them. She also has her own blog Blueberry Pie and Lobster Tales that you should check out.
And, Carroll? Well, he has a podcast that is hysterical. If you’re not from around here and want to get a listen to the 4th sexiest accent with some dry Maine humor, check out The Salty Seaman, “a long form podcast where [Carroll] and a mix of guests have honest conversations from a Down East perspective.”
Without further ado.
What it’s like being a fishing family
By Lindsay Lee Staples
Although being in this industry can be stressful and uncertain at times, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I have lived on Swan's Island my whole life and it is beautiful and quiet. I am from a lobster fishing family and I started fishing at a young age with my dad. I always loved to work - especially on the water. Through the years, I fished with my dad, uncles and friends and then when Carroll and I got together, I lobstered with him. We have been married for 14 years and have 3 children. Our two oldest go lobstering as well and they have their own boat and they also fish with their dad.
I always wanted to marry a lobster fisherman. I have always loved that we make our living on the water. In fact, I didn't go to college; I went lobstering after high school because I love working on the water and I knew I could make decent money.
I think the best part of being married to a lobsterman is that we can set our own schedule and we own our own business. There is great freedom in that aspect. I think being a lobster fisherman is one of the coolest jobs because you are on the ocean all day where you never know what you get to see or catch; it's beautiful and I have so much appreciation for it! I tell Carroll that all the time -- it is so unique.
Unfortunately, with good is always some bad and the biggest for that is worry. Carroll fishes offshore, and always has, which was new to me when we got married. I always worried if he was out late, and the hardest was when he started overnight trips. I never sleep when he is offshore overnight. I have learned to accept the worry, but it is always there! Not just for him but also our crew. Another tough challenge is stress. Lobstering is fishing, not catching, so it is seasonal, and we have good years and bad. Good prices and bad, and from July 1 - December 31 they are full force. He lobsters year-round but only goes out about once week during the winter.
They have very long hours and they're away from home quite often and it is a dangerous job. I always worry because I have him, my dad and other friends and family out there. I always say prayers for the waterfront for the fishermen to protect them, their boats and crew always!!
One of the biggest challenges we are facing [right now] is the whale regulations. We have been working to try to compromise and to make it safer for whales to swim without entanglements. In my opinion, it has worked. We have changed so much and have had great success. We love whales and do everything we can to protect not only them, but every creature and our oceans. We have been working for a decade to make sure we are doing all we can but are now facing more regulations. We hope to preserve generations of this industry and a future as well. Most lobster fishing families only have this income, and this is their way of life!! We have never done anything less than help but we keep getting slammed with more and more laws and rules. This slowly takes away our freedoms and that is sad because not once have I seen a whale in danger -- you hardly ever see them. I believe that lobster fishermen have gone above and beyond to be safe for wildlife and the science and studies prove it.
Just take a look at how we have taken care of our industry to preserve our future and for those to come - my children and their children. We have a certain size lobster we can keep, we v-notch egg bearing females, and don't keep over-sized lobsters either. That shows how much we care.
With all that being said, this all concerns me greatly and I worry about our future as lobster fisherman as these rules will likely continue to tighten. This is sad because we too care very much for the oceans and animals. I just wish it could be noted.
On top of these rules our expenses have increased dramatically. Herring prices may triple (if not more) which forces us to use different bait that may not work as well. Everything costs more and our prices do not reflect it. We need to be getting paid more per pound to offset our expense but that isn't the case. With bait costs on the rise, higher priced rope and traps, it is a hard wall that we are up against.
Switching to a fun topic we love lobster! So much so that I created a blog called Blueberry Pie and Lobster Tales. I love to cook! Our favorite way to eat lobster besides boiled with butter is lobster alfredo over pasta or pizza. Delish! We also eat haddock often. I love to cook that in coconut oil or baked stuffed haddock. We love seafood chowder and fried clams.
Being a fishing family is the best! Seeing my children learn is so fun for us too! We get to work together and be on the ocean - how could one ask for more??
I love being involved as a fisherman's wife. I have attended marketing opportunities and the Boston seafood show, a few meetings and fundraisers. I started my food blog to help promote Maine lobster. I love what we do, and I pray for the ability to continue for years to come. I love lobstering because it is so fun and by far my favorite job. I appreciate our lives everyday even though it is scary and stressful at times -- I love it.