Do you know your lobster fishing lingo? 5 terms that will have you talking like a lobsterman.

fisherman with lobster

My grandfather, with a tub full of lobster and a pocket full of cash. Photo courtesy of Delia Farris

Like people in other specialist fields of work, lobster fishermen use language unique to their profession. Below are a few terms that will likely only be familiar to you if you are part of a lobster fishing family or have spent some time on the decks of a lobster boat. Feel free to add to this list!

1. A Slack – The period of time on either side of high or low tide when the ocean is completely unstressed, lobster buoys are visible and a fisherman is able to haul his/her traps. In Downeast Maine, the slack tide is often the only time lobster buoys along the shore or in shoal areas aren’t dragged under by the strong pull of the tides.  Fishermen often speak of ‘hauling a slack,’ ‘going out for a slack’ or ‘catching a slack.’

2. Watching – A term used to describe when a fisherman’s buoys are visible on the surface of the water due to a slack tide.

3. Snarl – When the lines of two lobster traps get tangled together, causing a right mess!

4. Molesting gear – When one fisherman tampers with the traps (gear) of another fisherman.  This tampering can range from one fisherman hauling another fisherman’s traps and taking his/her lobsters to someone cutting a fisherman’s trap lines, causing that fisherman to loose his/her traps.

5. Pistol – A clawless lobster (a lobster which has lost both of its claws).

Christina Lemieux

About Christina Lemieux

Christina Lemieux Oragano grew up in Cutler, Maine, where her family have been in the lobster industry for four generations. She worked as a stern'man' on her father's boat for ten summers before graduating from college and beginning a career in advertising. While her job has taken her from Maine to San Francisco, New York and then to London, she has remained committed and connected to the Maine lobster industry. Her blogging, book writing, and experimentation with lobster recipes are testimony to her devotion to America's favorite crustacean.