National Geographic : 2001 Jul
0mi 1/2 0km 1/2 Wharf Fish NGMAPS ~ ::?r;,, Now 75, Sherm still carries himself with a mast-rigid carriage and an unshakable convic tion that most people are damn fools. "Tell me about the rules lobstermen live by," I asked him. Lobster season on Monhegan runs from December 1 to June 25. There are limits on lobster size (the body, not counting the tail, must be at least three and a quarter inches long, with a five-inch maximum) and on the number of traps that may be fished (600). "What if there is a violation?" I asked. "Say someone kept undersized lobsters or put out too many traps. What if someone from another community strayed into your waters?" "We take care of it, if you know what I mean," Sherm answered. "I don't. What do you mean?" I pressed. Lob stermen form a fraternal order of their own, and lobster wars between rival communities of fishermen often erupt. I wanted specifics. He gave me an appraising look. "I could tell you a lot of stories, but I won't." S PREAD OUT A MARITIME CHART of MUS congus Bay, along Maine's ragged mid coast, and run your finger southwest by south out of Port Clyde, the tiny harbor on the tip of the St. George peninsula. Continue on, taking care to avoid the shoals of Hupper Island and Old Horse Ledge. Trace a path between Allen Island and Burnt Island, turn slightly west, head straight, and you'll find Monhegan Island at latitude 43"45' N, longi tude 69°18' W. Captain John Smith came in 1614 and found it a "round, high ie," which is pretty much how one finds it today. Monhegan is ringed by high, dark cliffs. Its interior mixes meadow, marsh, and spruce WINTER BRINGS SOLITUDE to the 65 year-roundislandersand lobster traps to the lawn of the empty Island Inn. By summer crowds have arrived,including a sun-starved inn employee and hundreds ofday-trippers.