Chris Welch started fishing with his grandfather when he was 6 years old. He had his student’s license by the time he was 8. His grandfather, Skeeter Welch, had been a truck driver and a part-time fisherman; when he retired, he became a full-time fisherman. Chris grew up fishing at his side and got his own skiff at age 14, but he still went with his grandfather whenever he could.
He called his skiff Shitpoke.“I wasn’t allowed to swear around my grandmother, but Shitpoke was what we always called the blue heron cranes, so I could get away with it. At age 14, I thought it was kinda great.”
About fishing, Chris says, “It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. I love the freedom of it and every≠day getting up and doing what I want to do. And then there’s the challenge of it — when you’re young you just haul traps, you don’t know what you’re doing; as you get a bit older, you start actually fishing traps, and that makes a big difference.”
After he graduated high school, Chris went to college for 2 years. “I went because everyone told me it’s what I should do. I disliked every second of it. I had known since I was 14 what I wanted to do; I was glad when I finally came back and started fishing full time.”
He bought his grandfather’s boat, Kristy II (named after his grandfather’s granddaughter), a 28’ Booth Chick wooden boat built in Kennebunkport. “As my grandfather got a bit older, he started going with me. That was when I was 18. He went with me right up until he couldn’t go anymore.” Chris’ grandfather passed away in 2008 at age 72 but clearly left his love of fishing with Chris.
The boat Chris fishes out of now is a 35’ Duffy named Foolish Pride. “That comes from my grandfather. When I was younger, I was a little bit stubborn. My grandfather always said my foolish pride would get the best of me. My next boat I’ll call Quality Time. When I was hauling with him and we weren’t catching anything, he’d say, ‘Yeah, but think of all the quality time we’re getting.’”
Chris lives in Kennebunk with his wife Stevie and fishes all year. He’s lived in Kennebunk his whole life, “and I plan to live here the rest of my life.” Between fishing and being a parent, Chris doesn’t have much free time, but he still manages to be a lieutenant in the Kennebunk/Kennebunkport Fire Department and sit on the board of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. Hunting and fishing are high on the list of recreational activities he gets to when he can.
Favorite way to eat lobster? Right out of the shell, no butter. (“I’m a simple man.”)
Favorite lobster recipe? Steamed, no butter!
Scariest moment on the water? When he first started fishing on his own, he took a huge wave over the side. “That was a ‘life lesson’ — we shouldn’t have been out that day to start with.”
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