Friday, September 23, 2011

Farewell, Lobster Days

This will most likely be the last post I ever add to this blog. Thank you to all visitors, past and future, for stopping by.

On September 10th, 2011, my grandfather, Jack Norek Sr, passed away at home with his family in Sunset Beach, CA. Here is his obituary, as it appeared in the OC Register:

Norek, Jack Lee,

died 9/10/11, succumbing to cancer after a fearless 15 month battle. Born 11/6/1931 to Henry and Dorothy Norek in Long Beach, CA. He leaves behind his brother, Jerry; former wife, Barbara; son, Jack, Jr., (Cindy); daughter, Janice (Nick); grandchildren, Nicole (Dave), Jack, and Carrie; greatgrandchildren, Benjamin and Ryan. Jack with his brother, Jerry owned Crystaliner Boats in Costa Mesa. A Lobster fisherman since 1960, he barely managed to finish his last season, battling poachers and pain. His passion in life was the ocean and he loved filming his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He died at home surrounded by his family, watching his home movies. "Skipper" "Chapa" will be missed dearly by his family and friends.


As a child, my grandfather would take my family out on fishing trips. As I got older, I got to tag along during the lobster season and watch him and my uncle pull up traps as I stared in amazement at the various creatures that they would find.

In recent years, I had the privilege of working as a deck hand with my grandfather and uncle. And this past season, when my grandpa's health was rapidly declining, the two of us would go out and we would work light. We would talk about all sorts of things. Mostly lobsters, of course. The way he had the entire coast mapped out and kept meticulous records about where his traps were (and more importantly, where the lobsters where) was something that always boggled my mind.

It is difficult for me to accept the reality that those seasons are over. I tried my best not to take them for granted, especially in recent years. The experience of fishing lobsters in beautiful Southern California is one that I am very appreciative to have had the honor to participate in for so many years, especially with my uncle and grandfather.

Here is one of the last pictures I took during the past season with my cell phone:

I will never forget the many mornings spent on the Crystal Pacific with my grandpa. In fact, the original Crystal Pacific life preserver is now hanging on the wall in my living room. It's pretty beat up, but I love it.

RIP Grandpa, the greatest lobster fisherman on the west coast.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2010 Lobster Fishing Season

I haven't had much time to get out on the lobster boat this year, but I did make it out recently and took the opportunity to shoot a quick video with my phone of the lobsters being transported from the live tank to a bucket. The lobsters in the bucket were sold that day and then flown to China, where there is a huge demand for spiny lobsters.

Lobsters can actually live up to a couple days out of the water, as long as they're in a cool place.

The lobster you see at the end on the deck was not sold. I was going to give it to my mom, but she didn't want it. I then decided to find a home for it instead. He now lives in a tank at BadFish Clothing/Orca Aquatics in San Pedro. Not much leg room in there, but the lobster probably prefers the tank to the pot.

What a lucky lobster!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

2009 Lobster Season

Well, the 2009 lobster season has almost begun. We've already put out most of the traps for the year. Of course, since the season hasn't started, we can't bait the traps just yet (or even close them). But they are for the most part in position along the Southern California coast and ready to offer temporary room and board for our beloved California Spiny Lobsters.

Here are some photos from the lobster trap loading/dropping over the past few days.

The sea lion doesn't really have anything to do with lobster fishing...but she followed us around for like an hour, so I figured she really wanted some publicity.

Hopefully I'll have some new pics of giant lobsters shortly.

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Pics from the Lobster Boat

Took some pictures on the lobster boat the other day. The new season is still a few months away, so we were just out fishing for Barracuda and what not. However, I know I haven't updated this site in a super long time, so I thought I'd share with you some pics from the boat on a hot July day in Southern California.

Sunset BeachBait BargePacific Ocean

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

2008 Lobster Season

The 2008 Lobster Season is officially underway, and most Southern California lobster fisherman have been doing very well so far. Although the past few years have seemed to yield more or less average catches, this year definitely looks like a big one (knock on wood).

Hopefully I'll get a chance to get some good pictures and footage out in the ocean soon to share with you guys.

Here's a really cool picture I snapped early in the morning a couple weeks ago on one of the trap dropping days just prior to the opening of the season. As you can see, it was incredibly foggy. The fog never let up, and we had to depend on radar and air horns to navigate safely around the coastline.
This picture was taken at the Rhine Wharf in Newport Harbor. To the right you can see the Cannery Restaurant, a local landmark (as well as an excellent restaurant).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How Much Does a Lobster Fisherman Make?

Not too long ago I posted an article about an operator permit that someone in my family is selling. It's still for sale [edit: Permit has been sold!], but I've received quite a few inquiries about it. It seems that a lot of people wish to enter the lobster fishing business, but they aren't sure how or they doubt that they will be successful at it.

First of all, if you have absolutely no commercial fishing or boating experience, then it's a difficult thing to jump into. There's a lot more to it than just buying any old boat and some traps and dropping them into the ocean. It's also pretty expensive to get started if you don't already have a boat, traps, gear, etc. And let's not forget the price of fuel. Diesel fuel isn't immune to the gas price gouging going on, and it's a huge expense for commercial lobster fishermen.

Unless you plan on manually pulling up your lobster traps, you'll need a hydraulic lift fitted to your boat. Those lobster traps can get pretty heavy (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!). You'll also need special navigation equipment and sonar to let you know how deep the water is that you're dropping your traps. You don't want to drop a trap with a 50ft rope in 70ft waters, because you'll never see that trap again. Actually we don't measure them in feet...we measure them in fathoms...but I digress.

Have I changed your mind yet? Do you still want to be a commercial lobster fisherman?

The good news is that yes, there is a ton of money in the spiny lobster fishery. I can only assume the Maine lobster industry is also a great business to be a part of, but I'd rather be out here in California. The amount of money you make really depends on your means (boat, traps, gear, time, gas money) and the amount of work you're willing to put into it. There are indeed lobster fishermen out here in Southern California pulling six figures, but they work their asses off all season.

So, do you have what it takes? Or would you rather watch the
Lobster Wars DVD Set

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Miniature Lobster Boat

Just came across this, thought you lobster enthusiasts might be interested!
Lobster Boat Model
It's a really great Atlantic-style lobster boat model. It measures 25" long, 9" wide, and 9.25" tall. Great craftsmanship. Wood carvings, sand-cast brass, and lots of neat little details. It even has little lobster traps. Might be nice to have on your desk when you're away from the ocean!

I believe it's available for just under $90.

Edit: Sorry, it's no longer available!