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Commercial Fishing
02-26-2016, 10:12 AM
Post: #21
RE: Commercial Fishing
I believe clamming is the hardest work on your body you can do, especially if you are tall. In the past, I have cut wood and dug clams for a living, I can still cut wood, but I can no longer dig any amount of clams. It is very hard on your back if you are tall. Sometime while clamming or working in a wood yard, I destroyed 3 disks in my back. When I used to dig or pick clams, I was a little envious of those short clam diggers that could do so without bending over. They could walk right in beside the clams and grab them by the neck if they wanted to.
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02-26-2016, 10:51 AM
Post: #22
RE: Commercial Fishing
Worst job I did was digging worms for bait, Dad had a great idea that he would have us boys dig worms. Imagine dropping 3 young boys (13, 12, 9) at low tide and picking them up 6 hrs later, never happen today. At the last family get together I asked what was the worst job any of us ever had, without hesitation it was digging worms, Dad got a laugh out of it.
The other job Dad always had us do was unloading the bait truck, we had wooden barrels in those days and everyone had there own spot in the bait shed. No refrigeration, just salt and water to keep the bait from spoiling. Good times looking back.
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02-27-2016, 09:15 AM
Post: #23
RE: Commercial Fishing
My wife and I got together in the summer of 1982. I was working for a local lobster dealer at the time and would get done at 3:30 every day. Then, during the week when the tides were right, we would hit the flats. Clam prices had been $6/bushel for a long time (60 lb bushel!) but had gone up to $12-$13 that summer. A few guys bought little lights that were on a head band and had batteries so they could dig at night but we never got that ambitious.

My wife and I, when the stars were in alignment could dig 5 bushels in one tide. The price got high enough by late August that we could top $100 a tide at one point, way more money than I could make on my regular job. We eventually got to "hand picking" in real soft mud, on low drainers and that was like a game as you never really knew what was down in that big hole, til you stuck your hand down there! I have heard stories of large eels being in there sometimes but never saw any.....thankfully.

Funny thing about it in looking back is that those were incredibly tough working days, spending 5 or 6 hours, after working an 8 hr day elsewheres, but they were some of the most fun times we ever had.

The money never lasted long of course but the memories sure have. I wish I could still do that now!

WC
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02-27-2016, 11:29 AM
Post: #24
RE: Commercial Fishing
It was what we called a tapeworm that without a doubt was the grossest thing I had dealt with at that time. No problem baiting traps etc, but those damn tapeworms we would dig while looking for seaworms, and those seaworms will bite you.
Looking back my father may have had a bigger reason, to show us what hard work really was.
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04-15-2016, 03:37 PM (This post was last modified: 04-15-2016 04:07 PM by Scout.)
Post: #25
RE: Commercial Fishing
Video on clamming. I can smell the flats.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SZJeRs_-FkA

Trawling video.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UlOtjxufybM
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04-15-2016, 04:50 PM
Post: #26
RE: Commercial Fishing
I never dug clams, except we would dig hen clams when the tides were right. Then chop them up to make clam fritters. I did dig worms as a kid, it was a short lived career. It was the hardest job I ever had.
And Scout welcome to TMC
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04-16-2016, 02:06 PM (This post was last modified: 04-16-2016 03:02 PM by Scout.)
Post: #27
RE: Commercial Fishing
I was lucky enough to spend a summer purse seining for herring. We had a market in Portland for big sea herring that were shipped to Japan. These fish never touched human hands while being processed. The fish were vacuumed out of our hold, oriented back up and head first and zoomed at high speed through this huge machine. They were eviscerated, rinsed and landed in a box where they were blast frozen.

Most of our day was spent steaming to Portland, unloading, taking on fuel and ice and steaming back to the fishing grounds. Then we looked for herring by first searching for gulls or whales at a distance. Once you found a school up in the water enough to set on, then you worked like hell. You had to circle the school with the net, draw the purse line tight on the bottom of the sein and then take enough sein back on deck to dry the fish up for pumping. You couldn't waste any time with mistakes or your fish escaped. Once it had given us the lead end of the sein, our "bug boat" would pull us away from from the set to keep the purse seiner from drifting over the sein. If you dried the fish up too much on a big set, they would smother and sink like lead with all kinds of undesirable consequences.

It is amazing the number of unusual experiences I witnessed that summer. I could write many paragraphs, but I will share just one scary story. That summer we did most of fishing between Isle Au Haut and Portsmouth with much of it around Matinicus near such places as Wooden Ball, Seal Island and Malcolm's Ledge. We had been doing pretty well with a small sein, but after awhile the fish kept escaping before we could close up the purse line. The skipper blamed it on other fish mixing with and preador fish, making the herring too wild to catch. So to protect our market and make a paycheck we put on the big sein. This sein was 46 fathoms deep with a double bunt and I can't remember how long but depending on where it was set, the fish couldn't swim underneath it to escape.

Now in those days using the electronics we had, circling a school of fish at high speed with a big net was not a precision operation. With the fish acting wild, you never knew how many you were going to catch. One night we set that big sein 3 times for nothing and often it came back needing repairs from tuna punching holes through it. Take it from one of the guys flaking the sein back on deck, it was very tiring. We had a few decent sets, but not enough to load and head to Portland over. I didn't blame the skipper for what was to happen next.

We finally set on a school with flawless accuracy. Everyone did their jog quickly and without error. The electronics showed fish in the net as we tightened the purse line under them, but we didn't know it was too many fish this time. We couldn't dry them up enough to pump and when over a million pounds of fish decide to go in one direction, nothing can stop them. The fish kept taking the top of the net under water, escaping I presumed. We called in other boats to tie onto the other side of the sein to keep it from going under. One boat had done just that, but before a second one could do the same, it happened.

The fish smothered, nearly capsizing both vessels. I looked accross at the big carrier on the other side of the sein as wooden cleats were being ripped out from the weight. The crew was able to take an ax to the remaining lines to keep from going under. We were listing terribly and quickly dropped one end of the sein to let the dead fish spill out. We dumped dead fish for hours. Finally, we took back the end and saved around 220,000 pounds, but everyone felt sick about it. We estimated that we had to have caught more than a million pounds with that set and there was no way to handle them. If we could of, we would have loaded every seiner in the area that night. No one was hurt, but many fish were wasted. We never fished that sein again. I believe it was made into two seperate purse seins after that.

Here are a couple of links describing this type of fishing. The second one is pretty good if you don't mind the music. Note that they load several boats from the one set.
http://www.gma.org/herring/harvest_and_p...g/seining/
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1SFCuSJ1ypY
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04-16-2016, 03:45 PM
Post: #28
RE: Commercial Fishing
I did not do any commercial fishing other than lobstering. My son on the other hand is the engineer for couple of herring carriers out of Rockland, none of it is easy, all of it can be deadly in seconds. Sure is a good way to make a living or at least be valiant in the effort.
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04-16-2016, 10:27 PM
Post: #29
RE: Commercial Fishing
Scout, did you guys have a "power block" to help pull the twine back, or a power roller on the side of the boat? How big was the boat?

Around wooden Ball and Seal Island was where they purse seined lots of herring for the Stonington Factory in the last few years. Dangerous business indeed. i went as stern man with a friend lobstering one winter and we had traps in that area. Not a nice place in a January blow.

A guy from Southwest Harbor was out there in a 42 ft Bruno and Stillman fiberglass boat purse seining one summer. He had two crewmen. They were hauling the twine back with the power block (after dark) when someone shined a search light into the net. The fish spooked and ran at the other side of the net, which was nearly pursed tight enough to dry out the fish. When that mass hit the net, it put pressure on the power block and with the leverage of the boom, the Midnight was upside down in just seconds. A crew member from Ellsworth, the husband of a high school classmate and friend, was caught in the twine aboard the boat.....and didn't make it out alive!

I have heard lots of stories of close calls but this is the only fatality I am familiar with in Maine waters.

WC
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04-17-2016, 07:32 AM
Post: #30
RE: Commercial Fishing
The boat I was on was 65' and pretty stout with an oak hull. We had both power block and power roller. Looking back, I was reminded of my ignorance, what with being young and green. It happened so fast, I didn't even realize the danger. Fortunately, the skippers and seasoned crew reacted swiftly. The fact that they kept an ax handy shows that they knew that sort of thing could happen.
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