The average lobster trap weighs 40-65lbs, and is mostly constructed out of plastic coated wire. Lobsters enter the traps through funneled openings called “heads”. From here they move to the “kitchen” where the bait is placed, and then through the parlor head into the “parlor” section. Traps are typically set along a line called a trawl which allows for multiple traps to be set and hauled at once. Depending on the zone assigned to a lobstermen’s license, the number of traps one lobstermen can have per trawl varies. The number of traps per trawl also varies on whether the fisherman plans on fishing inshore or offshore waters.
A trap typically costs around $100 or more, and are made of metal with a plastic coating, where as they were once made of wood. The traps have multiple compartments including the kitchen, and various parlors. The kitchen is where the bait bag is set, and where the doors of the trap are located for lobsters to enter the trap. Lobstermen typically use herring to bait their traps but have also been known to use alewives as well. Between compartments is a cone-like netting that makes it easy for the lobsters to move deeper into the trap, but harder to get out. The parlor has escape vents which allow smaller lobsters or other bycatch to escape the trap. Bricks adorn the trap to be used for balance to land upright on the bottom, and runners line the bottom of the trap to protect the claws of lobsters and allow for smooth hauling of traps from the water.
For a lobsterman to find their traps, unique colored buoys are used to mark the surface above the trap. Each lobsterman has their own color combination that makes their line of trawls identifiable to them. The buoys are also marked with the lobstermen’s license number for further identification.
Traps require constant upkeep from rust, and even invasive species such as tunicates which can stick to the traps and make them less effective. Because of their weight, they can be dangerous to handle and require care when working around and with them. Without a conventional trap, it is illegal to take lobsters using any other method of fishing.
Furthermore, lobster traps have adopted gear modifications with whales in mind to abide by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. All buoys must be attached with a weak link to allow breaking to occur at no greater than 600lbs, all buoy lines must be sinking line or all ground lines must be entirely of sinking line as well.