Surge in Squid Perplexes Scientists

BAR HARBOR — Penetrating the cool nighttime fog with flashes of blue, green and purple, Jac and Jen Fischbach descend an aluminum ramp to their favorite dock in Northeast Harbor. Stretched between them are yards of garden netting, dotted with pulsing LEDs and carefully placed lead weights.

“So, I know this looks like the product of some frustration,” said Mr. Fischbach, indicating the contraption extended between he and his wife. “For three years we tried all the different squid jigs. But then my dad had some garden netting, and we made this.”

Amidst some talk of the proper depth, the Fischbachs lower their net in the turbid water of the bay and wait. “It does kind of look like an alien landing platform,” said Jen Fischbach, frowning at the blinking lights beneath the water. “Maybe we should take off some of those LEDs?”

They wait.

The couple, who visit Mount Desert Island to spend summers with their family, have been fishing for squid every year they are here. But this year, unbeknownst to them, they have been joined by a growing number of squid enthusiasts. With higher numbers of longfin squid in the harbors than most people can recall, fishers all over MDI are wrestling with the same slippery question: how do you catch squid, and what do you do with it?

In past years, it was not unheard of for mackerel fishermen to pull in the occasional squid. However, this year, recreational fishermen are splotching the docks with ink from Southwest Harbor to Bar Harbor.

Retailers are noticing the trend, too. Hamilton Marine in Southwest Harbor estimates they had sold 10 times more of the specialty squid jigs this year than during a typical year – mostly in the last five or six weeks.

“We ordered a dozen of the jigs on Friday, and we’re already out [on Monday],” said Beth Gronros, who works at the marine supply store. “It’s out of control. I mean, people are filling their buckets with hundreds of these things. ”

For more maritime news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

Fenceviewer Staff

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