Eric Girouard 0:03
All right, we're here with Jacob Knowles, Jacob Knowles comes comes from northern Maine. And he's a lobstermen and goes by the Tiktok. Handle. Jacob Knowles, Jacob, welcome.
Unknown Speaker 0:17
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Unknown Speaker 0:19
Awesome. Awesome. So, me being up in Maine and, and we have a guest guest host today, Andrew off the docks of Gloucester, we, we wanted to get down and dirty with the lobster community and kind of shed some light on on some of the some of the things you guys go through on a daily basis. So yeah, take us through how you got your start and give us a little background about where you came from and and what you're doing today. Yeah,
jacob knowles 0:49
definitely. Yeah, there's plenty to talk about in the lobster world today. where I started, I guess it goes way back to when I was little. I started on the boat with my dad, basically, as soon as I could walk, grew up on the water fishing for mostly lobster with him. We did a few different other fisheries as well. But lobster was the primary fishery and I got into my own skiff, when I was probably in seventh eighth grade, something like that. And many even younger than that, it was probably it was a grammar school, I got into my skiff and Harlan with my dad, he'd come with me sail and teach me how to do it and on a student license. And then moving into high school, I kept upgrading my boat started on my own and taking crew. In high school. That's where I had to make the decision, obviously, if I was going to pursue fishing full time, or go to college, and it seemed like I was well situated at that point to move into the fishing industry. I'd already worked my whole life learning how to do it if I didn't see the sentence starting over trying to relearn something else when I'd spent my life learning that. And at that point, I had a good vote. And I had good gear. So I moved full time after high school and fishing. And it's been it's been a roller coaster ever since then. It's been I don't regret the decision. We'll see in a couple more years if I do. But yeah, I guess that's basically my background of how I got going.
Unknown Speaker 2:29
Awesome. Awesome. Now that's a that's a good background on everything. And it's a pretty it's a pretty competitive industry Correct? Like gear placement and, and what have you, how did you kind of carve out your territory? Is it you know, ever moving as groups open or close? Or kind of shed a little light on? On how you get your your spot?
Unknown Speaker 2:53
Yeah, so the territory is definitely pretty territorial, different areas more than others, some areas are kind of wild, wild west. But so 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 areas that same areas that my father is fished and my grandfather and so on. And I was kind of taught how to fish those areas and how to respect those areas and how to respect the guys, the other guys, the fishes. So it's basically a respect thing. You know, if, if you have respect, people can work into the territories, as long as they do it respectfully, and the stories that you hear kind of stem from disrespect and bad history or stuff like that. 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.
Unknown Speaker 3:55
Unknown Speaker 3:57
Hey, Jacob, it's Andrew here. How about you tell us one of those stories? You know about somebody maybe move encroaching in someone's territory or something? I know we've all heard some craziness, but coming from a fisherman's mouth, I think it'd be pretty entertaining.
Unknown Speaker 4:13
So yeah, I mean, I guess, to elaborate on it a little bit, I guess, like an example of the disrespect to be somebody with history of keeping lobsters that they shouldn't keep or somebody. I mean, people people kind of make reputations on the water themselves and fishermen are pretty good talkers and rumour spreaders and are not over spreaders but they the word gets passed along pretty quick. And people's reputation tend to spread. So the bad eggs kind of shined the light on on themselves in when they tried to. Fish areas, certain areas, I guess. I mean, it's a pretty In Depth subject, I guess.
Unknown Speaker 5:03
Yeah, no, no, no. I mean, we've all heard the stories. I was just, it's, it's interesting too, because, you know, I did a lot of our listeners know that I was in the Coast Guard. So one of the one of the things I did, we did a lot of Northern patrols. And, you know, I was out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and we're up into parts of Maine and and, you know, you're out there, you get on a boat, and the boat smells like bleach, and you're like, geez, you know, these guys are out here scrubbing lobsters or, you know, you're just looking for the people that really hurt the industry. I mean, it's a very, it's a protective community, because you guys got to protect your resources.
Unknown Speaker 5:42
Exactly, exactly what I mean, nobody. Nobody up here. I mean, nobody cares as much for the officers 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 that's where their reputation comes from. Obviously, fishermen that follow all the laws and feel strongly forum are willing to protect protected areas, from people like that.
Unknown Speaker 6:10
Totally. So when you you mentioned lobster men taking lobsters are not supposed to. I mean, I used to do a little bit of lobster in my free time too. But maybe go through like what a V notches and, you know, the size limits, there's undersized and oversized for the listeners at home that don't know, like, what what are what are the no no's for lobster and the big no knows that, you know, raise red flags. Yeah, we
Unknown Speaker 6:32
have a bunch of different regulations. And we were only allowed to keep a small slot size. Anything under three and a quarter, we measure them from the eye socket down to the back of their shells. So under three and a quarter. They have to be released in anything over five inches on the back of their shell has to be released as well. Anything that has eggs currently has to be not released. And anything that we catch that has a notch has to be released, regardless of if it has eggs or not. So those are kind of the main, the main guidelines that we have to follow.
Unknown Speaker 7:06
And I mean, I know the answer to this, but you know, is there a way for somebody to, to do it as a non commercial so could could somebody go out there and throw out a lobster pot and how do they go about? You know, I guess fishing from the shores if you will doing a little recreational lobstering?
Unknown Speaker 7:27
Yeah, yeah. Anybody can get a rack license. I'm not super educated on the topic. But um, as far as I know, anybody can get the rack license and you're allowed five traps, and you have to follow all the same regulations as the commercial guys, but you're allowed five traps, you get your own buoy color, you get your five tags, and you can go set your traps and then you just can't sell them.
Unknown Speaker 7:51
Yeah, yeah. No, and it's it's definitely an interesting it's an interesting career to get into for us up in in New England. I mean, we love our lobsters and and, you know, we always have lobster bakes and whatnot, we're actually we're just talking about having a lobster boil here at the garage and and doing something along those lines. But is this where you want to be do you picture yourself on in a fleet or you're going to do you know Gesture your vote with your guys or where do you picture your career gone?
Unknown Speaker 8:27
So that's pretty cool thing about main actually is we're we're limited to owner operator only which is it's it's designed to keep the big corporations and big fleets out so it's really promote small business and it keeps like I said, a large corporations from being able to monopolize bottom and areas so even if I wanted to run two or three boats, I wouldn't be allowed to because the the owner of the permit has to be the operator of the boat. So yeah, for my future it's basically on my own boat running my drone in my gear and, ya
Unknown Speaker 9:08
know, and I mean, I've seen that I've actually watched a lot of your tic TOCs and it's you guys look like you have a lot of fun. I mean, I actually liked the the tongue video you did with the with the lobster
Unknown Speaker 9:22
right? Yeah, we try to make the best of it and have fun. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 9:30
So Jacob, what would be the number one thing you wish you knew now that you did it that you knew what you wished you know back then that you that you know now that you've learned over the years?
Unknown Speaker 9:48
Ah, man, that's a big list
Unknown Speaker 9:56
fisheries changing a lot right now. Yeah, yeah. Since coming into play,
Unknown Speaker 10:01
yeah, I guess it would be to try to. I mean, aside from all the obvious stuff like mechanic work and gear work and trap placement and all of that stuff, that stuff would have been great to know back then. But I guess the main thing has been more or less to try to get ahead of the curve ball on the regulations and the right whales and maybe get on social media earlier. And in trying to, it seems like the only way we can really fight what's happening to us right now, as fishermen is to just try to spread the word. What's happening to us in the hope that hope that it helps, I don't know what else we can do beyond that. And social media is really the only the only outlet we have for that.
Unknown Speaker 10:51
So dive into the challenges that you're facing, like what you're mentioning that you know, you want to bring light to something, but for our listeners that don't know, what are you trying to change?
Unknown Speaker 11:05
So we have a lot of challenges. Were most of them stem from the right whales, the right whales, the North Atlantic, right whales are an endangered species. And we get the blame heavily for entanglements with them. And I mean, this is just one, one case of what we're fighting. But we don't have this, there's no link to evidence to support their claims that we pose a serious threat to the right whales, we've been marking our ropes for certain colors for 20. Or as long as I've been fishing, and I don't remember fishing without road markings in our ropes, we mark them with certain colors that way, if there's an entanglement, they can track they can trace back where the entanglement occurred, they they would. It's just designed to prove whether or not we're guilty or innocent. In how much of a threat we actually pose.
Unknown Speaker 12:01
No, actually, you bring up a very good point, I did a podcast a few seasons back with Captain Dave Marciano of wicked tuna. And he had, he had brought up like, there's, there's it actually he was, he was very forthcoming in his, in his disdain for a lot of blame and a lot of, you know, wrongful pointing of the fingers from either agencies or, or groups on, you know, a overfishing over, you know, just just a whole a whole list of things and, and what he brought to light was the fact that, you know, 90, let's just call it 99.9% of the fishing community is out there trying to do the best thing to protect, you know, life to protect, and it goes down, I mean, literally goes down to the hunters of Maine or the hunters and across the United States, the amount of money that they pay towards preserving the life of, of wildlife and species and everything is, there's nobody out there that's that's championing championing for marine life or, or outdoor life then then hunters and fishers. And, and, you know, I It's kind of a bum rap, you know what I mean? You're out there, you're out there pulling from the ocean, but at the same time, you guys are giving back by by doing the right things. Right, right.
Unknown Speaker 13:32
Unknown Speaker 13:35
I'm definitely there with you.
Unknown Speaker 13:37
Yeah, yeah, it's a tough situation. I mean, we get it's, like I said, I don't know what we can really do other than raise awareness on the things that we have been doing for 20 years and in our track record and our history that proves that we, I mean, if we were a serious threat to the whale, if we were as serious of a threat, as they say we are, then we would have found it mean regardless of the rope marking argument, like the rope marking argument is a very good argument in our favor. But regardless of that, let's just throw that out the window, we would have found all right, well sight unseen, dead or alive wrapped up in our traps by now in the history of Maine fisheries. You know what I mean? Like the lifelong history of Maine, lobster fishing, we've never found a right well wrapped up in any of our gear. Yeah, if we are a serious threat, if there was a serious problem over the last, how long we would we would have found one whether it was alive or dead wrapped up in our gear.
Unknown Speaker 14:29
Yeah, yeah. No, that's a good point. That's a great point. And, you know, it's it's interesting that the world we live in now, the power of social media, the power of getting that voice out there. I mean, these were tight knit communities that are protected communities. Fishing hunting doesn't matter. But their voice wasn't really heard outside of the town or, or the region.
Unknown Speaker 14:52
Exactly. And especially the lobster community like you take it well any fishing in general. If I think is a pretty secretive sport, if you will. And lobster fishing like you say it was really only known by the state of Maine, like, what occurred in the state what? What occurred in the lobster fishery was pretty unknown to the outside world, right? Because I mean, because of the natural. The natural, you know, you know what I mean? The natural, like fishermen are naturally secretive about what they do. It's just how they, you know, well, you know, never, never tells us secrets, like, exactly, exactly. So kind of social media in the fishing world kind of got a bad rap. And like it didn't belong in in, in lobster fishing, but right now we need it. We have to have it if not, I mean, it's the only thing we got.
Unknown Speaker 15:49
Yeah. So So Andrew, Andrew told me and and for those out there that don't really know when, when it comes to fishing. I mean, we've corresponded and I love I love your time stamps. It's like, six o'clock in the morning, five o'clock in the morning, right? So he came on with us. Right off the right off the boats. And, and he was I asked him, I go, Hey, what time are you waking up in the morning? What time? Were you waking up in the morning to get out there on the books,
Unknown Speaker 16:17
usually to two in the morning? Or 230? Yep.
Unknown Speaker 16:20
So what does it look like for a young person to get in the trade? What What would you tell them?
Unknown Speaker 16:26
To a young person to get into the trade to try to become a captain or to work on the back of a boat?
Unknown Speaker 16:33
Yes. I mean, I guess just starting from from the docks to even just how do they get into the trade? How?
Unknown Speaker 16:41
I guess Yeah, either. Either way to start you need to get on a boat first. To become a captain nowadays is really tough. They have strict entry requirements where multiple fishermen have to leave the fishery before one can enter. different zones have different ratios. But overall, it's a it's tough to enter, would you send out
Unknown Speaker 17:06
it's like a stern man or something.
Unknown Speaker 17:07
So you start out on the back of a boat, and you'd have to fill out, you'd have to do like an apprentice program. And you'd have to log your hours your captain would have to sign off for you get your hours logged. And then you'd get put on a waiting list and wait for a fisherman to leave to move you up the list to get your license. But getting on. On as a crew is relatively easy. The demand is like the demand is through the roof right now to everybody. Everybody's looking for crew and nobody wants to work. It's the same story everywhere. Yeah. But yeah, people can. People can get on some boats. If you're starting out with no experience, you can get on just some seasonal boats that are willing to take people with no experience. You might you might get lucky and land on a on a full time boat with no experience that's willing to teach you, especially in today's world. Me, for example, I'm willing I fish full time, but I'm willing to take people occasionally that don't have experience as long as they're willing to work hard and willing to learn and have a good attitude. I would say one thing that usually people with no experience end up fighting the most to see sickness. And in the repetitiveness of the job, it's a very monotonous repetitive job. And it's very physically demanding work. But if you're willing to work, you're willing to learn you don't get seasick. And you can get up you can definitely get on a boat. No guarantee your first boat will be will be a great job, but you can definitely work your way up and get
Unknown Speaker 18:42
to one. See sicknesses Dramamine and a bucket right yeah,
Unknown Speaker 18:46
that's right. I guess there's a few I actually used to get seasick on that a little bit when I was when I was a kid. I learned some ways to fight it. Really what gets me is not being able to see if I can't if I can't get my eyes out and see something actually even today I'll get it sometimes if it's before riding out in the morning and it's done in like a fog and dark and we have no no reference from my nothing to see and it's really it's really rough out we got like an hour ride I'll get a little queasy by the end of the ride but really get outside and get your mind busy and do something and it's kind of a head game more than anything if you once it gets in your head that's all you think about but
Unknown Speaker 19:29
yeah, I mean it's busy, you're fighting elements you're fighting you know being tired you're fighting hunger, you know, you're pulling pots and you're you don't get to have that normal lunch break or whatever but it starts to get dark you can't find the horizon I mean all Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 19:55
so Jacob so with tuna fishing I primarily here in mass we primarily fish from you know, June to we've actually had a pretty good run in December but then it wraps up usually late December. So with you guys up in Maine with the lobster fishery Are you What's the timeline for that is a year round?
Unknown Speaker 20:14
Yeah the lobster fishery you say not not the tuna fishery yeah the lobster fishery is yeah it's open you're around we do slow down a lot in the wintertime from like December to April we don't there's still some fishing to be had but it's pretty brutal. You gotta go offshore and the weather sucks it's cold and yeah, I mean the main part of the season is from April till December or from May till December and then kind of from December till April we we slow down a lot in the winter.
Unknown Speaker 20:45
Yeah, it was it brings me back to the times that you're we were patrolling in December January and you're out there busting up ice just
Unknown Speaker 21:01
even being on the tuna deck battling a fish and like eight foot seas when it's 20 something degrees out I mean, it wakes you up. You know you're if you're a guy on the wheel, you're from McAfee used to be freezing on the wheel.
Unknown Speaker 21:17
So that being said, on your on your offseason do you do on wine you go snowmobiling, do you pick up another job? How do you how do you relax? You know what do you do?
Unknown Speaker 21:31
Well, I finish my I keep pretty busy. I don't. I got quite a few hobbies. I guess my main one might probably like my favorite thing is fishing. I do a lot of flying. I'm a pilot private pilot as well. So I combined my fishing. My pleasure fishing with my flying so in the summertime, the plane is on floats. And I fly all over the state fishing for brook trout. And in the wintertime, the plane goes on skis and we do some ice fishing. I wasn't able to do it the past couple of winters, but I'm hopeful that I'll be able to. Now I don't know if I'll make it this year. But next winter. I'm definitely going to make it happen. But yeah, snowmobiling skiing, ice fishing in the winter. Vacations we go to Florida have it somewhere warm for a few weeks. Yeah, keep pretty busy for the winter. If you don't keep busy in Maine in the winter, you lose your mind.
Unknown Speaker 22:29
Yeah, it's actually it's actually been pretty rough. The past couple of years actually for for a long time. I mean, I go out on Sebago and in the wintertime and it's just it hasn't hasn't froze over. And
Unknown Speaker 22:43
it's brutal. Well, that's That's why That's why my ski flying has been impacted is there's amount of coastal fog and the coast coast of Maine doesn't the winters are not the same anymore. Because they use the ocean keeps the coast warm. And we just don't get the ice or the snow to do ski flying anymore. So we're actually working on my dad's got a piece of land, he's putting a grass strip on so we're going to be able to, we're going to be able to get back on skis, hopefully next winter, not this winter. But the next one hour hopefully, we'll be able to fly out of here on wheel penetration skis, which are skis that have wheels on them, and then fly north where the ice is.
Unknown Speaker 23:27
So I mean, how'd you get your pilot's license? Like, when did you start flying? Like how did this all come about?
Unknown Speaker 23:34
Um, so actually started with my grandfather. He wanted to later in life actually, he wanted to become a pilot. But he didn't want to drive back and forth to the airport and do the schooling all alone. So my dad was like, I'll go with you, I'll drive you back and forth and I'll sit to the ground school with you. And so my dad took him to the ground school and my grandfather never actually ended up finishing finishing it but my dad got hooked on it. So he ended up finishing it getting his pilot's license and he got a plane and I was young when he got his first plane but I grew up flying with him and I was hooked right from the get go that was my favorite thing growing up was going flying in an ice fishing up north. Any any any adventure that involved the plane I was in on and that's not changed. Right till today. It's still it's my passion.
Unknown Speaker 24:34
Dude, that's awesome. Awesome. So you know it's it's actually been great to get to know you. I mean, you definitely brought up light to the to the lobster community. Definitely show how to have a good time outside of work. I mean, I wish I could fly a plane. I actually I'm sure the world doesn't want me to fly a plane so no, definitely definitely pretty interesting. A conversation. But I want to, I want to give you this time to either you know if anybody wants to know anything about the lobster community or any, any things that you support any initiatives that you guys are doing for the lobster community work can they find you either on social media or a website or whatever? And, and get to know a little bit more about you?
Unknown Speaker 25:30
Yeah, so I guess the main place to learn about me is Tiktok and Instagram. I think definitely on tick tock. I come up as Jacob Knowles. And my I guess my Instagram is LinkedIn like tick tock, so you can find me through there. My my tick tock is all about lobster fishing in what we do in our efforts to keep it sustainable and it basically all all about lobstering on tick tock. And then if you go over to my Instagram, it's a little bit more about my personal life and my hobbies and stuff like that. Was there was there another part to that question? No, I
Unknown Speaker 26:04
mean, I just you know, if there was any initiatives or anything that that you support, to protect the lobstering community or anything, it was just more giving you a chance.
Unknown Speaker 26:17
Yeah, so yeah, there's, there's a few not super involved in them. But there's the MLA that helps support lobster fishermen. And the MLL MC, which is the marketing collaborative, and I'm not super informed on either of them. But I do know that they help support the lobster fishery and spread the word of what we do. I know that the MLM MC is currently doing a petition in protest of the lobsters getting red listed, and that's becoming that's a pretty big addition. And they got a lot of I think, last I checked, they had almost 15,000 signatures on the petition, which is a huge help, and they always they're working effortlessly to spread the word about spread the word and spread facts about what's actually happening here.
Unknown Speaker 27:12
Oh, yeah. Well, I wish you a safe journey on your next lobster outing and, you know, catch a lot.
Unknown Speaker 27:23
Thank you. Thanks for having me on.
Unknown Speaker 27:25
Awesome, awesome. Thanks for being on. See