Here are some shots I took fishing on Jeffreys Ledge off Cape Ann, Mass. This was in April, three years ago. We were haddock fishing one day and cod fishing the next. The trip was an experiment, a cooperative between the fishing industry, the University of Rhode Island and New Hampshire SeaGrant. The point of the experiment: can you target haddock and not catch cod or flatfish?
We used a different kind of net for each fish. The haddock net has huge meshes (see photo, the one with the beautifully colored twine, or, at least, I think so), in the entire face or front of the net. The huge meshes run along the bottom of the net as well. These large meshes give certain species of fish an exit–they swim right through them, and out the net. Cod, flounder, sole, monkfish, lobsters, skate, don’t often get caught with these nets. This kind of net–called an Eliminator Trawl or Rhule Trawl–along with a trawl named the Separator are becoming more and more common on Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine. Fishermen today want to avoid certain species while targeting others. It’s a blend of art and science. Art because fishing is fishing and the captain has to know what he’s doing; and science because of net engineering and design.
The other net was a traditional groundfish trawl (photo of net with the yellow twine). This net is excellent at catching cod, haddock and flounders, and has been used for years to do so.
There are two photographs in this series to take notice of. The first one shows a haddock tow using the Eliminator Trawl. The next one shows a tow using the traditional groundfish net. The first is nearly pure haddock, with a few cod, and no flounders. The second shows a mixed bag of Jefferys Ledge bounty–cod, wolfish, three species of flounders, and skate. All the tows were on the same piece of bottom for the same length of time.
The results were impressive: The Eliminator does reduce the catch of many kinds of fish–but catches haddock very well.
Enjoy the shots.
The boat’s the Stormy Weather out of Hampton, N.H. Carl Bouchard, in his early-seventies, owns and runs the boat. Deckhand Paul Kuncho is a serious Red Sox fan and has been fishing with Carl for a long long time.