Is there a lobster season? A best time of year to buy and eat Maine lobster? The answer is yes. While lobster can be caught all year long in Maine, there is a peak season when Maine lobster is most abundant and has the best flavor – this season is from mid-summer to mid-fall, when lobsters have freshly shed their shells. New shell lobsters, called ‘shedders’ to us Mainers, are even sweeter and more succulent than normal Maine lobster. Many foodies consider them a seasonal delicacy. Below is my ‘insiders’ overview of the Maine lobster season – an intimate look at the the ebb and flow of lobster fishing throughout the year. Enjoy!
The Maine Lobster Season
Lobster Fishing In Spring – Setting Out The Traps
The lobster fishing season in Maine usually kicks off in April. As spring fills the air, lobstermen fill their boats with traps and head out on the ocean to set their gang. The months of May and June are slow for fishing as the water continues to warm but it is important for lobstermen to mark their territory before the kickoff of the main lobster season.
Lobster Fishing in Summer – The Maine Lobster Season/Shedding Season
By mid-to late July the Gulf of Maine begins to warm up significantly which triggers the seasonal molt. As the lobsters shed the confines of their old shell, they grow in size. For the first time, many of these lobsters become large enough to meet Maine’s strict size requirements for harvesting. Newly shed, or ‘new shell,’ lobsters are also very hungry which makes them perfect for trapping. And they are also perfect for eating. The meat of a new shell lobster (frequently called soft shell in restaurants) is the sweetest, tenderest lobster you’ll ever taste. Many tourists flock to Maine in the months of July, August and September to experience the nirvana of the Maine lobster season. Roadside lobster shacks serve up succulent lobster rolls and shore dinners while towns like Rockland and Winter Harbor host lobster festivals in celebration of the seasonal harvest.
Lobster Fishing in Autumn – Boom Time
Fall fishing is the busiest time of year for a lobsterman. As the ocean begins to cool and the shells of the newly shed lobsters become more firm, these ‘hardened up shedder’ lobsters migrate towards deeper waters offshore. As they do, the fishermen are there to catch them. During autumn, a fisherman and his sternman will leave dock well before sunrise and return well after sunset. They haul their gang of traps at least two or three times a week, clearing each trap of a bounty of lobsters in order to make room for more. They also shift their traps around frequently to catch ‘runs’ of lobsters as they move across the ocean bottom. The weather is often fierce but so are the fishermen as they seek to maximize their catches before the end of the lobster season.
Lobster Fishing in Winter – Make and Mend
By mid-to late December the lobsters thin out and the weather becomes so tempestuous that most fishermen decide to end the season. They haul up their gang of traps and bring them back to dry land until the next spring. Most fishermen leave their boats mooring in the harbor over the winter and spend the winter months repairing their traps, overhauling their trapline, painting their buoys and resting up for the next season.
To read about previous Maine lobster seasons, including the lobster catch and price of lobster in Maine in previous Maine lobster seasons, click here.
To read more about Maine lobster fishing, click here.
Richard root saysApril 26, 2016 at 8:51 pm
Where can you buy lobsters off the boat
Christina Lemieux saysApril 27, 2016 at 9:11 pm
Hi Richard. Just head down to any of the working docks on the coast of Maine and wait for the fishermen to come in. Maine lobstermen typically sell their catch to a wharf owner or dealer but they may be willing to sell a few to you!
Liz saysJune 16, 2016 at 1:47 pm
This is a great post Christina! Just found your blog, so plan to do a bit of exploring here. We spend our summers in Maine, and the rest of the year in NW Wisconsin. Can’t wait to get out to Maine this year… 2 weeks! 🙂 I write a little about my experiences in Maine on my decorating and DIY blog. Would love to have you stop by.
Aimee saysNovember 11, 2016 at 8:54 pm
My Fiance and I are planning on driving to Maine for our honeymoon September/October 2017! We also live in NW Wisconsin. Where at in NW Wisconsin are you from?
Patricia saysAugust 5, 2016 at 12:08 am
Coming to Maine and eating some great Lobster is on my husbands and my bucket list.We are retired school teachers and are planning a road trip north soon.We are also native floridians but prefer Maine lobsters greatly over our Florida lobster.Would love some inside info on some local places to eat and possible stay for a day or two.Thanks for any help you may offer.
Christina Lemieux saysAugust 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm
So lovely to hear from you. How far do you want to drive into Maine? We just returned from a few days in Acadia (bar harbor) and were reminded of how beautiful it is there (with lovely lobster shacks at every corner and lobster boat tours easily accessible as well). If you want to stay in southern Maine Kennebunkport and Wells are magical areas and one of the best lobster rolls in the world can be found at The Clam Shack. Let me know if you need any more help!
Patricia saysAugust 5, 2016 at 4:51 pm
Thank you so much!Will get back with you on our trip details.Our youngest daughter visited northern Maine about 3 years ago and loved the area around The Acadia park,we are of Scottish decent and hear there are a lot of Scots in that area.We also would like to go to Nova Scotia so any inside tips on going there would be appreciated.
Vinny weisman saysNovember 9, 2016 at 4:40 pm
Is Thanksgiving to late for nice lobsters
Frank Giachini saysOctober 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm
Hi – just wondering how the lobsters run in late October?
Christina Lemieux saysOctober 5, 2017 at 2:41 pm
The lobsters are usually still running strong in late October. Most of the new shell lobsters have hardened up a bit by this point but they still taste delicious!
Frank Giachini saysOctober 5, 2017 at 3:38 pm
Thank you for the quick response! Any events/specials/Things to do you might recommend for the weekend of October 21st?
Christina Lemieux saysOctober 6, 2017 at 10:20 am
I definitely can! If you are a foodie and/or want to enjoy some great local food, beer and wine, check out some of the Harvest on the Harbor events, which will be happening that weekend. Here’s a link to the Harvest on the Harbor Schedule… http://www.maine-lylobster.com/2017/08/harvest-on-the-harbor-schedule-2017.html If you love lobster, definitely book a ticket to the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Competition, where you can sample a variety of inventive lobster dishes. This event usually sells out quite fast so research /book as early as you can. And enjoy!