Lobster Trapping


The Mi’gmaq of Gespeg passed down old traditions by telling stories. This is one of the stories of a fisherman passing on his knowledge on how to fix and work a lobster trap.
Throughout the winter, they would repair the seasoned traps ensuring that all traps were in working order. In storage, at times, mice would chew at the netting and some lats would break and have to be replaced. Before the season would start, the fishermen would repair the traps that had been damaged.
When the fishermen would build a new wooden trap, they would let it age for one year so that it looked worn and dark. If the trap were white in color, the lobster would see the trap and would tend not to enter. Also, if you waited a year, it would make the trap more water resistant.
When they made the traps, they prepared the lumber, made the bottoms, put in the bows (a curved wooden strut forming part of the frame), and then the netting. They then sewed everything in. Before they could put the traps in the water, the fishermen put cement blocks or rocks to weigh down the traps. Today, some traps are no longer made out of wooden structure, but are now formed as a wire cage; this helps weigh the trap down.
The types of wood the fishermen used for the traps structure were ash, yellow birch, cedar and or spruce. The bows were made out of ash and the bottom was made out of yellow birch, but they would commonly use cedar or spruce. The wood they primarily used was birch because it was harder wood and it would wear less, since the traps were always sitting in the water moving with the tides.
The fishermen gave names to the parts of the trap. First is the kitchen; this is where the lobster would come in to eat the bait. After getting into the kitchen, the lobster would end up in the living room where it would get stuck there. The lobster tends to walk backward into the kitchen, so that when the fishermen would haul up the trap, the lobster would automatically fall down to the living room and get stuck. There are also escape hatches; if the fishermen would lose one of their traps by the rope breaking, the rope is specially made to dissolve so the lobster can get out. The lobster would be able to escape from the escape hatch.
To this day, the Mi’gmaq of Gespeg practice the tradition of lobster trapping and it is carried down through the generations.