This week on Bucket Talk, Jeremy and our guest host Andrew catch up with Maine-based lobster fisherman Jacob Knowles. A fifth-generation lobster fisherman, Jacob hopped into his first skiff in grammar school and ended up diving fully into the lobster trade after high school. Tune in as he chats with our hosts about finding his place in the lobster world, keeping lobster fishing local and what the biggest challenges are for lobster fisherman in 2022.
Breaking into the lobster world is no simple task, so it helps to have a family history in the trade. Jacob Knowles has exactly that — five generations, to be specific. Raised by fishermen in Maine, Jacob was destined to be a lobster fisherman from birth. He went out on his first fishing trips in grade school, got his license and once he finished high school, he decided to enter the trade full time.
“I was pretty fortunate. I'm part of a multi generation family. So I'm a fifth generation fisherman. So kind of the area that I'm fishing are the same areas that my father has fished and my grandfather and so on.”
Though entering the trade could be seen as a foregone conclusion for Jacob, he still needed to develop the skills and respect for lobster fishing. Luckily, he was able to learn these skills from a young age, earning his place in the always-territorial lobster fishing world.
“I was taught how to fish those areas and how to respect those areas…You know, if you have respect, people can work into the territories, as long as they do it respectfully. So yeah, I guess I was pretty fortunate to come in as a fifth generation fisherman and to be able to fish the areas that I have.”
When it comes to lobster fishing, you’ve got to know your place and you’ve got to follow the rules, or else you’ll develop a bad reputation; this is something Jacob has seen all too often with the folks trying to break into the trade with a bad attitude or bad intentions.
“Nobody cares as much for the lobsters as we do, because we need them more than anybody does. And when you hear of another fellow fishermen not respecting that, that's where the bad eggs reputation comes from. Obviously, fishermen that follow all the laws and feel strongly for ‘em are willing to protect [these] areas from people like that.”
Though most fisherman tend to keep to themselves, looking to protect their secret spots, Jacob knows that getting on social media and promoting the lobster fishing industry is one of the best ways to grow and bring awareness to his world. To him, there’s no reason to gatekeep — boats are always looking for new recruits.