All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Elver Season

It's elver season in Maine from March 22 through the end of May. The market for the tiny eels isn't great this year—about $50-70 per pound, a pound containing about 2,500-3,000 glass eels. In past years, elver fishermen have made as much as $300 a pound.
A decade ago, hordes of fishermen set out thousands of fyke nets in a quest to capture the tiny eels on their annual journey from the sea to fresh water. The funnel-shaped nets clogged even the smallest Maine streams, and fishermen battled one another for prime fishing space along the banks. [Link]
Since then the Legislature has placed a cap on elver licenses out of concern for overfishing, and is now considering a bill that would allow only fishermen with 2006 licenses to apply in 2007.
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At 12:23 PM, April 05, 2006, Blogger Michelle Souliere said...

What freaks me out is how close our research/articles run to eachother when I haven't checked your blog for a few days. FREAKY!!!

At 2:05 PM, April 05, 2006, Blogger Chris said...

Of course, I preferred to focus on the cuddly little elvers, while you focused on the 6-foot-long monsters plaguing the people of Thomaston.

At 10:25 AM, April 06, 2006, Blogger anothermaine said...

While the market was pretty good a decade ago, in 1977-78 it was phenomenal. I was 10 but my dad was one of the very few folks fishing for glass eels at the time. (In elver stage they are pencil lead thin and transparent save for their spine, internal organs and eyes.) No license was necessary and due to a bad weather destroying the fishing for them in the Far East, the market for our eels was kind of like a gold rush. Keep in mind that this was the late 70s, my dad brought in an income of something like $28k in about 6 weeks of work! I was allowed to go help the following few years and it was a really fun family business. (11-13 years old and fishing at 3am on the Royal River with my Dad!) The Market petered out after that for a few years but we did have the aforementioned boom time about a decade ago. Of course by then, the State found that they wanted a share of the market. Augusta began requiring anyone dipping for eels (it is almost the same fishing method as smelts) have a Commercial Fishers License and EVERYTHING got taxed...each net, tank, and vehicle got a seperate tax. There was still some profit to be found, but as with most things that the State puts its hands into the fun was gone.

At 11:52 PM, April 06, 2006, Blogger Chris said...

Wow! $28k was a pretty handsome paycheck in the 70s. My parents bought a five-bedroom house with attached barn for half that in 1975.


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