Lobster on the Coast of Maine
Before 1850, lobster fishing was done simply by collecting lobsters that had washed up on the beach or had been stuck in tidal pools when the tide went out. In 1850 the lobster trap was invented and the lobster fishing industry was born.
Maine Lobsters are clawed lobsters which comprise a family of large marine crustaceans. Lobsters are economically important as seafood to the world and to Maine, forming the basis of a global industry that nets more than $1 billion annually. Though several groups of crustaceans are known as “lobsters,” the clawed lobsters are most often associated with the name. They are also revered for their flavor and texture.
They live on rocky, sandy, or muddy bottoms from the shoreline to beyond the edge of the continental shelf. They generally live alone in crevices or in burrows under rocks. They are caught primarily using lobster traps. A lobster trap can hold many lobsters. Lobster traps are constructed of wire and wood. An opening permits the lobster to enter a tunnel of netting. Traps are usually constructed in two parts, called the “chamber”, where there is bait, and exits into the parlor, where it is trapped from escape. Lobster traps are usually dropped to the sea floor and are marked by a buoy so they can be picked up later. The colorful buoys dotting the Maine coastline are like registered trademarks for the harvesters. Each lobsterman registers his or her buoy markings with the State.
The cold waters of the gulf make it one of the most productive marine environments in the North Atlantic. The Gulf furnishes habitat for the American lobster, which grows to very large sizes. Lobsters in Maine are harvested by boat captains independently or with one or two assistants. Lobster fishing in Maine is largely an in-shore fishery, with boats generally making day trips within 10-12 miles of shore. Each harvester can fish up to 800 traps, hauling and setting a portion of their traps each day. The Maine lobster industry continues to flourish while in other areas of the country the lobster catch is down.
Settling down to a lobster dinner is an expectation to the traveling public when visiting Maine. The key to finding a great lobster dinner is to find a place that harvests the crustacean and serves it all in the same day. One of those places is The Kennebec Tavern Restaurant in Bath Maine.
The Kennebec Tavern Restaurant is situated in the Mid Coast region of Maine. Since 1997 lobstermen have been landing their catch on the docks. The waters of Casco Bay are perfect for some of the best lobster fishing in Maine.
The day starts early for the local lobstermen. Lobstermen climb aboard their boats before the sun rises. They head out for what can be a sixteen hour day with the hope of a big catch. The faint glow of an approaching sunrise over the Cribstone Bridge awakens the seabirds to a new day. The air is moist with the smell of salt and diesel as the boats start-up. The lobstermen begin their assault on the sea. Casco Bay is their destination and they don’t have far to go because Bailey Island jets thirteen miles out into the bay. Connected to the mainland by a series of islands and bridges ending with Baileys Island, a two-mile long by ½ mile wide rock-bound paradise
After a long day on the water the lobster is brought to the docks and weighed. The lobster is held in wooden crates each holding about 90 lobsters each. They are immediately placed into the salt water holding tanks on the docks or tied onto the docks and submerged in the sea. The process then begins of separating the size and shell hardness of the lobsters. Once the lobsters are picked through they are shipped to their destination or brought to the restaurant where they are put into salt water holding tanks until a guest orders one for a meal.
The secret to a great lobster is the freshness and the amount of time that the lobster has been kept out of the sea water. The longer out of the natural environment the less succulent the lobster. The Kennebec Tavern Restaurant prides itself with having a lobster come in and served the same day. Gene Nygaard the owner of the famous landmark restaurant says “there is no fresher lobster anywhere unless you eat it under water.
There are many ways to prepare the Maine lobster you can steam, stuff, sauté, sauce, and bake it. The most popular way to have a Maine lobster prepared is by boiling it. At The Kennebec Tavern they steam the lobster in its natural juices to maintain all of the great characteristics of its taste. One of their guests is quoted as saying “The lobster was succulent and tender. It was absolutely the best lobster I’ve ever had (and I’ve eaten many lobster, and many in Maine).“
One of the rich traditions that restaurants carries on is the Traditional Maine Lobster Bake where lobster and corn are covered in seaweed and seawater and prepared in large wood fired vats. There is no better way to experience a Maine lobster then to be outside on the coast with the smell of the fire and salt air.
To find out more about the best Maine lobsters or Cook’s Lobster House visit their website at www.kennebectavern.com or call them at 207-442-9636