When you think of Maine, you think of lobsters! We had an amazing hands-on experience today, going on a lobstering excursion with Lucky Catch Cruises. That’s right, we got to load bait bags, empty traps, and measure lobsters right alongside the crew! This is certainly an experience that I will remember forever.
Preparing to Go:
Tickets for the lobstering excursions need to be purchased online in advance. Since we’re visiting in the fall, we tried to watch the weather for the warmest day to plan our adventure. Right now they’re limiting the number of people on the boats more than usual and the cruises are always popular, so be flexible when picking your date and time and plan ahead as much as you can!
Lucky Catch offers different types of lobster excursions, too. They have some boats that aren’t allowed to keep the lobsters they pull out of the water, so if being able to purchase your lobster is important make sure you don’t book one of the “catch and release” tours. They also have several different routes they follow, one that goes past a seal nesting area and another that goes out past the Portland Head Light. They also have some cruises listed as “Captain’s Choice” where they pick the exact route and traps to visit. No matter which you choose, it’s sure to be an awesome adventure.
As you might imagine, fall in Maine can be pretty chilly—and it’s even colder on the water! So plan for any and all types of weather. I thought my mom was a little crazy with all of the layers she gave me to wear, but I realized how useful it was when we were the only people on the boat who weren’t shivering by the end. Hats and neck warmers are your friends because it can be really windy out on the water!
Lucky Catch Cruises is located right on the harbor in downtown Portland, Maine on Commercial Street. This main road runs along the water in Portland, so we knew the area a little bit, and finding their location was easy.
There are street parking spaces as well as a few local garages nearby where you can park, but we found a perfect spot in the bank parking lot right next door. When they’re not open for business their parking lot becomes a pay-to-park lot, and we easily pulled into the handicapped spot right at the front.
From there, you’ll spot the small stand where you check-in for your excursion. We were warmly welcomed and instructed to go wait by a sign down along the pier that extended out into the water.
Get on the Boat!:
At this point, I was a little nervous about how we were going to get onto the boat. It was much smaller than some boats I had been on and reminded me of the scuba boats we went on in Mexico. The Lucky Catch team was on hand to help me roll down the ramp to the lower dock—I always feel best if I roll backward down steep ramps with the help of my mom or a friend, so you may want to try this if the incline worries you. There was a small bump at the bottom as well, but there were lots of folks around happy to help.
Once I was on the lower dock, I transferred from my chair to the edge of the boat. This was wide and flat, and it felt sturdy as I turned and swung my legs over to the other side. The Lucky Catch team then lifted my chair onto the boat for me, and I transferred again. For the rest of the adventure, I was able to stay in my chair and roll around the boat as I wanted! There is seating along the sides and back of the boat for anyone who needs to sit during the trip.
Once everyone from our group was loaded onto the boat, we took off! Our Captain and two additional Lucky Catch team members (who were amazing!) took turns explaining everything we would want to know about lobstering, other marine life in the Portland area, the history of the various islands we were passing, and so much more. We were then given thick lobstering aprons and gloves. For younger kids, they even have chest-high waders they can wear! Even so, I wouldn’t suggest wearing anything you don’t want to get dirty. Ocean life can get messy.
They explained that each lobsterman has different colors and patterns they paint their buoys, so they can easily find them again in the water. When we arrived at the first traps to “pull” out of the water, I loved watching them use a long hook to grab the buoy, and then how easily a large crank at the front of the boat pulled the heavy traps out of the water.
Then things got exciting, the first traps had lobsters!
As they pulled them out of the traps, we learned how to measure the lobsters, tell if they are male or female, and how to band their claws so they don’t hurt one another in the holding tank. The hands-on fun continued as we all got to take turns stuffing dead fish into bait bags, and re-bait the traps before pushing them off into the water. This process repeated several times as we traveled around checking all of the traps. Along the way, we also got to see and toss back several types of crabs. One of them even snuck out of the bottom of the trap and hid under my wheelchair for a while before the crew could get him scooped up.
Once we checked all the traps we were visiting, we turned and headed back to port. During the ride back we got to take turns holding some of the lobsters and learning even more. You do have the option to purchase lobsters on the boat, and then you can take them to a restaurant on the pier to have them prepared. But, after meeting this cutie, my mom realized that it was probably best if we skipped this part and walked up the street to Becky’s Diner for breakfast instead.
The entire team at Lucky Catch Cruises was wonderful and very accommodating of my needs. They were also incredibly friendly and full of knowledge. They knew so much about the science of lobstering as well as the local area. It was neat to learn so much on this adventure. This was one of my favorite mornings in Maine and next time we are in the area I’ll be begging to go again.
Anna’s Top 5:
A few things you don’t want to forget as you get ready to head out on the water!