June 15 is National Lobster Day. This year, why not feast on crustaceans from the waters right off the mouth of the Merrimack?
Bob Hartigan, owner of Bob Lobster in Newbury, is a commercial lobsterman who has been fishing off the coast of Plum Island for more than 30 years. He hauls his pots from a boat called the Joy Sea, named after his wife, Joyce. The couple winters in Florida, employing other local lobstermen to provide the catch while Bob is away.
Hartigan says Plum Island lobsters are the same as those found in Maine, and have the same migration pattern. His favorite way to eat the succulent seafood: “I prefer them on a tossed salad or in a lobster roll. Lobster rolls are probably our biggest seller. It’s basically all meat, with a little bit of celery and a little bit of mayonnaise in a roll that’s sliced on the top. That’s about it.” But it’s not so easy to enjoy one this way while in the South. “It’s hard to find hot dog rolls down here that are cut on the top. The only place they make them is New England,” he says.
“I used to fish year-round,” Hartigan says. “The store isn’t going anywhere, but for the last couple years I cut back.” Turns out, however, that it can be hard to take it easy. “I’m going out right now to haul crab traps here in Florida,” he says. “No matter what kind of fishing it is, I love it.”
In honor of National Lobster Day, head over to Bob Lobster and grab a lobster roll for lunch, or bring home a few of the clawed creatures for dinner. They are delicious served traditionally steamed, but don’t be afraid to experiment with lobster BLTs, potpie, sliders or even poutine (french fries with lobster gravy and cheese curds.)