Lobstering: The Maine Event

This undated self-portrait provided by Army Spc. Alexis Hutchinson shows Spc. Hutchinson and her son, Kamani. Hutchinson is an Army cook and single mother based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga. who could face criminal charges after she refused to deploy to Afghanistan, saying she had no family able to care for her child. (AP Photo/Alexis Hutchinson) NO SALES AP Photo/Alexis Hutchinson

Lobstering has a new face these days., as The Early Show Correspondent Melinda Murphy disovered when she went to Spruce Head, Maine, for today's assignment.

She had expected some salty, rough-and-tumble, captain-of-the-sea type to take her out on his lobster boat. But, Bob Baines, a Maine lobster man for more than 20 years, does not look the part.

"It's the only job I've ever had," Baines says of loberstering.

Bob and his brother, Jack, are both first-generation lobstermen; their dad used to run the co-op at the dock.

The two brothers each own their own boats so George Harris is Bob's right hand man.

Baines drives the boat, while Harris preps bait bags and other things. Each bag is filled with dead herring - 4-day-old fish.

A rocking boat and smelly fish – "Yes! Life is good," says Harris with a laugh.

Life is good if you're a lobsterman these days. Electronics like radar and GPS systems have made things a bit easier.

Baines notes, "When I first got in, I had a compass, that's all I had."

But the one thing they still can't control is the weather. The day Murphy joined them, it was really foggy.

Harris says, "We do haul in some very, very severe weather. When other boats aren't, we always pretty much go out."

Tough guys? "We try to be," Harris says.

They're definitely tougher than Murphy and her TV crew. While waves made the landlubbers green around the gills, the lobstermen just kept working.

They work a string of traps marked with their special color-coded buoys. There are 10 traps to a string - 800 total. That's a lot, but these two work like a fish-oiled machine.

After the lobsters are caught, each is measured.

By law, they have to throw back lobsters that are too little or too big as well as egg-bearing females.

Baines says, "We do that because it protects the brood stock. We keep throwing the good females back so they can keep producing eggs so we can keep getting them."

And each lobster has to be banded, too. So Murphy gave it a try. "This is harder than I thought it would be," she says.

Baines tells her it is important to do so "to protect the lobsters from each other and the person who wants to handle it."

Asked how many times he gets bitten doing this, he says, "Maybe three or four times a year." And, he adds, it hurts.

But all told, it's worth a bite or two. Last year was the best ever on record for Maine lobstermen. This year? Well, that remains to be seen.

Baines says, "I make 80 percent of my living between now and Christmas."

And at an average of $3 or so a pound, he does pretty well for himself. He can't even say how many lobsters he catches a year. With a laugh, he just says, "A lot. I do fairly well."

Lucky for Baines, not so lucky for the lobsters.

Lobster are caught in anywhere between 15 feet and 300 feet of water and, in case you were wondering, they stopped using wooden traps because the upkeep was just too hard.
  • Tatiana Morales

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