Gordon ‘Skip’ Connell: ‘I have 800 traps and it's hard to keep them in good condition’

Lobsterman who builds his own traps won 50 more in the Lobster Trap Tree Giveaway

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 10:00am

SPRUCE HEAD — Gordon “Skip” Connell, 59, was one of two people who’d found he’d drawn the lucky ticket for the 2017 Lobster Trap Tree Raffle this year. Out of 255 tickets sold, the lucky winners were announced Friday, January 3, in Rockland’s Mildred Merrill Park by Gordon Page, Executive Director of Rockland Main Street, Inc.

Connell had the choice to take 50 traps or $2,250 in cash and he chose the traps. 

“I was smiling pretty big when I’d found out I’d won,” he said from his home in Spruce Head. “In fact, I’m still smiling.”

A $50 ticket bought two chances to win.

“I buy a ticket every year,” he said. The other winner from the raffle was Donald Schwab, of Port Clyde, who chose to take the cash.

For Connell especially, the gift of traps comes at precisely at the right time. Rather than shell out $80 to $100 for new traps, he planned to spend his winter building 200 new traps from materials he gets from Brooks Trap Mill to supplement the 800 traps he fishes with annually. The fact that Brooks Trap Mill provided the lobster traps that constructed up the Lobster Trap Tree couldn’t have worked out any more perfectly.

“That probably just saved me a couple of weeks,” he said of the new 50 traps.

The process of building traps takes patience. He also makes his own trap heads from shrimp netting.

“To start it’s a lot of prep work,” he said. “There are a lot of small things to do that make the assembly go much smoother. Once the heads are made and the cages are clipped together (ends and bridges with the hole cut for the side heads ) then comes runners, bricks, bridle end corner reinforcements, (made from the pieces cut out for the side heads) heads and doors, bungee cord door closures, and two vents. There are a dozen other things that I haven't mentioned. I would guess that I might spend a couple of hours at that point putting it all together, maybe a bit less as the kinks get ironed out. I do know that I put the cages together at about six an hour. That is about twice the rate that I built wooden traps when I was in high school.”

The Lobster Trap Tree has been called “The Most New England Christmas Tree” in the nation. It took nearly 15 volunteers several days to build the structure with more than 155 traps on the tree when it was completed decorated with approximately 2,500 lights, and more than 100 authentic lobster buoys topped off with a giant lobster and star and the entire structure is put on display for the annual Festival lights. After the festival of Lights each year and the raffle, the tree is dismantled trap by trap. “Stephen Brooks [owner of Brooks Trap Mill] told me they were all set to bring them to me before the latest storm hit, so that put it off for a few days,” he said. 

Other organizations who supported The Lobster Trap Tree raffle included Camden National Bank, Hamilton Marine, First National Bank, and Rockland Savings Bank, FSB.

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com