Jim Dow

Jim Dow fishes out of Bass Harbor, which sits on the southern tip of Mount Desert Island.  Most people know Mt. Desert Island for Acadia National Park – a destination reached by coming from the mainland, over the Trenton bridge and on to the island.  Jim’s family, however, comes to Mt. Desert from the sea, hailing from Gotts Island, which sits about two miles offshore from Mt. Desert Island. “We’re 5 generations of fishing, fishermen and island living,” says Jim.  “My great aunt, Ruth Moore, wrote about living on Gott’s Island in a series of novels placed on Gotts Island in the early part of the 19th century.”  The coast of Maine clearly runs through Jim’s veins.

“At 8, I started fishing in a 14′ skiff that my grandfather built and spent a lot of time around the docks listening and learning from the older fishermen. My Dad fished, my brother fished, it was in our family.” When Jim was 17, a car accident left him without the use of his left arm.  He wound up going to college for accounting, and worked in that field for a bit. “But I didn’t like it and I missed working on the water.” Gradually he regained the use of his arm and started to make his way back to the sea.  He worked on herring seiners out Gloucester for a time, traveling back and forth from Glocester to Mt Desert.  “Being away from my family was difficult so first I went seining out of Vinalhaven for a summer, then I decided to move home and go lobstering again.”

What does Jim love about fishing? “Independence, the office view – watching the sunrise every morning – I have the best office in the world, and just being on the ocean.”  His boat, Blythe Megan, named for his two daughters, is a 38’ H & H which he fishes year-round.

Scariest moment on the water? “Years ago, on the seiner out of Gloucester in the winter, we got caught in a bad storm, the waves took everything off the deck.  It was a long slog home, what should have taken 6 hours, took nearly 20.”

In his spare time? “I have a camp on Beech Hill Pond, north of Ellsworth, I really enjoy working on that and we spend a fair bit of time there, whenever we can.  I do a bit of carpentry, I own a few apartment buildings and those always need something done to them.  Between all that and fishing, there’s not too much time left over.”

Favorite way to eat lobster? Lobster rolls – made the traditional way – mayo, celery, paprika and tarragon.

Jim’s daughters don’t fish, “but maybe I’ll have a granddaughter or grandson who takes to it.  No rush,” Jim reflects, “but maybe someday.”