Charlie Spinney of Kennebunk, 14, just spent his first summer lobstering and said he enjoyed the experience. Submitted photo

Charlie Spinney of Kennebunk, 14, just spent his first summer lobstering and said he enjoyed the experience. Submitted photo

KENNEBUNK—Charlie Spinney of Kennebunk, 14, a freshman at Kennebunk High School, just started lobstering out of Kennebunkport this past May.

Spinney’s paternal great-great grandfather and his great-great uncles were all lobstermen in Kittery Point many years ago and although the fishing gene skipped a few generations it has resurfaced yet again in young Charlie.

“My dad’s grandmother’s family, her dad and brothers were all fisherman,” Spinney said. “They owned lobster businesses and built boats down in Kittery Point. I never got the chance to meet any of them, except for my Nana.  She died about 4 years ago, but she always told stories of the fishermen who would sell her the lobsters that she would market. That always stuck with me.  My parents tell me that Nana and the rest of the Witham crew are channeling through me.”

Spinney remembers showing a keen interest in all kinds of fishing even as a toddler.

“I’ve always loved fishing. I started crabbing at Colony beach in Kennebunkport when I was 4, and when I was really small,  I always wanted to fish off the jetty there too and couldn’t wait until I was old enough to do it,” he said.

In addition to his deep rooted interest fishing, Spinney has also shown an entrepreneurial side from a very young age.

He explained, “I’ve always loved to earn money. First it was lemonade stands, then  lawn mowing and snow shoveling, which  turned into more ideas and opportunities. I found out about sand worming and did research on it and a few years ago, I got my license for that and now I sell my worms to different stores in the area and charter boats too.  After that, I spoke with my parents about fishing for lobsters, which led to me scanning for boats, and last winter, I bought a 16ft skiff.”

Tara Spinney had this to say about her son. “ Charlie is the oldest of three and has always been driven and has always wanted to run his own show. His father, Byron and I have always tried to support his endeavors and allow him to experience life. Charlie came hard wired with determination and a work ethic that is amazing.” 

To get started in lobstering, Spinney researched the topic and made some phone calls all on his own. 

“I started calling people to find out what I had to do to. I found out through the Maine DMR that in order to get my license I needed sponsors and 1,000 hours,” Spinney said. “Then I called people in the business who were able to help me. Lauren Brooks and Pete Hutchins who are both Kennebunkport fishermen helped me get started.  They took me out on their  boats and taught me the basics of lobstering.  They really helped out a lot.”

While still an eighth-grader, Spinney approached  Dwight Raymond, owner of Performance Marine, to see if Raymond had any place on the Kennebunk River to let him tie up his skiff.

“He and I talked back and forth until we came up with a payment plan. He has been really good to me and is a mentor to me in business,” Spinney said. “Mike Perkins, another lobsterman who also does deep sea charter fishing in the summer, helped me figure out the operational methods of my boat. All of those guys down at Performance Marine are great and really supportive of me and my future goals.”

His father, Byron Spinney, said, “Because we don’t know much about the fishing industry, we allow Charlie to find people who do, and talk with them, learn from them. You should hear him on the telephone.  It is amazing to see the young business man in him.  He has no fear of rejection and no fear of being straight forward with people.”

Though the support and encouragement from local fishermen and business people has gone well, it has not been all easy going for the young fisherman.

“I started out with 50 traps and at the end of the season I was down to about 30 traps, because I made some errors that all have to do with learning- for instance some I sunk over their heads and others got stuck in the rocks, and by hand hauling that made it really hard to get out of the rocks,” he said. “Hand hauling was a great experience for me because I learned that mechanical items are  great things to have.”

All the bugs Spinney caught in 2016 he sold to nearby Port Lobster Company. 

“Next year I’d like to try and distribute them to a few restaurants too,” he said.

This article first appeared in the Maine Lobstermen’s Association newsletter.

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