Lobster Trap Bouys – Origins and Modern Uses 

Lobster BouysLobster Bouys

Lobster trap bouys are used by people who are fishing for lobsters or crayfish. They are said to have been invented in 1808, although it is also claimed that use of the trap originated in Cape Cod. 

The actual origin may be lost to history. Most historians feel it is likely that several different fishermen began using them about the same time. The first official description of the trap was written in a report on the lobster fishery of Maine by the United States Fish Commission in 1899.

There are a couple of different traditional types all types are designed so that the lobsters can crawl in to get bait but are unable to crawl back out. 

The efficiency of this design is debated. Some people say that lots of lobsters are able to crawl back out and much of the catch is lost. It’s hard to say for sure what happens once the traps are in place.

How Lobster Traps Bouys Are Used 

Lobster Metal Wall PlaqueLobster Metal Wall Plaque

Fishermen typically take out about a dozen of the pots and drop them to the floor of the sea or ocean. The pots are attached to  lobster trap buoys that float on the surface to let the fishermen know where they are located and also to make them easier to collect. 

The fisherman’s license number is written on the buoy to establish ownership. Writing the license number on the buoy is also a legal requirement in most parts of the U.S. and Canada.

The pots are usually checked the next day. The portion holding the bait is called the chamber or the kitchen. If the kitchen is empty, but there are no lobsters in the trap, the trap is re-baited and dropped back down to the sea floor a rope attached to the lobster trap bouys mark the positions so that the fishermen can easily locate them.

Other creatures can easily take the bait and swim back out. A bait less trap does not necessarily indicate that lobsters got away. Only a camera attached to a pot could tell you what’s really going on down there.

Most lobster traps have another “room” besides the kitchen. The other room is called the “parlor”. It is in the parlor that the lobsters become trapped.

Lobster Trap Bouys and Older Traps 

Lobster TrapLobster Trap
Lobster TrapLobster Trap

The older traps were traditionally constructed of a rope mesh and a wood frame. In Maine, it was common to use strips of hemlock, spruce or pine in the construction. Hemlock was considered the most durable but was not always readily available.

New lobster traps are composed of metal frames with a plastic-coating. A rope mesh is still used in the construction. In addition to using them for fishing, a modern use is as a decorative item. Antique pots can be found in homes, especially those by the seashore, but anyone who likes a nautical decorating theme may be interested in the pots and can also add lobster trap bouys to inhance the decor.

As you might guess, a trap that has been used would have a distinct smell that might not be considered pleasant. Because of that, many homeowners choose to use the decorations outdoors, rather than inside the home. Some homeowners place plastic lobsters or crabs inside of the trap. 

Now you know a little more about the origins and modern uses of lobster traps and lobster trap bouys. They can make interesting conversation pieces when you have visitors who don’t know their purpose.

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