Tom Doyle of Lucky Catch Lobster, left, helps Nick Agresta of Indiana measure a lobster caught near House Island in Casco Bay during a July 22 excursion. Lobsters can only be taken if their carapace measures between 3.25 inches and 5 inches. Agresta was visiting Portland with his wife and three daughters. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Editor’s Note: The Maine Lobster Festival, traditionally held around the first weekend in August, has been canceled for a second straight year, so the Masthead Maine family of newspapers decided to give the state a week of lobster coverage to help our readers enjoy our state‚Äôs iconic food.

The 90-minute boat rides around Portland Harbor offered by Lucky Catch Lobster are more than just scenic. For the past 25 years, Lucky Catch has offered visitors the chance to experience Maine’s iconic industry and get their hands dirty as they bait traps and measure and band lobsters.

Capt. Tom Martin hauls in a trap by Fort Gorges. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Lucky Catch is one of a dozen companies in the state that offer lobstering tours for visitors from near and far.

“When I think of Portland, I think of being on the water and lobster,” said Chris Freas of Philadephia before getting on a Lucky Catch Cruise July 22. “That was a big draw for us to be able to experience that deep history.”

Freas signed up for a tour with his girlfriend Kate Delanty as “a unique way to experience what Portland has to offer” during their first trip to the city.

Adam Gillis, who was visiting Portland with his wife, Tara, had heard about the experience through a co-worker and decided to make it part of their stop in Maine.

“It is more than just your typical tour,” said Gillis, a resident of Rochester, New York. “It gives you that hands-on experience.”

Chris Freas of Philadelphia, left, checks the size of a lobster with Capt. Tom Martin after hauling in a trap July 22. The lobster was too small to keep and had to be thrown back. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

During the tour, Gillis, Freas and the others on board helped Capt. Tom Martin, Rachel Ashman and Tom Doyle pull Lucky Catch traps near Fort Gorges, House Island and Fort Williams while learning about the difference between soft- and hard-shell lobsters, how to determine a lobster’s gender, industry regulations and local history.

“They were a wealth of information, not only about lobster, but local history, fishing and conservation efforts they use to ensure a healthy lobster industry,” said Yuri Zietz, who was visiting from Baltimore with his wife, Sheila Wells.

Being able to pass on this knowledge and shine a light on the lobster industry, Martin said, is his favorite part of the job.

“I love meeting people from all over,” said Martin, who has been lobstering since 1984. “I am proud of the industry, its sustainability and laws. Passing that knowledge and information on is really important.”

Yuri Zeitz of Baltimore gets advice on baiting a trap with dead pogies from Rachel Ashman of Lucky Catch. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Lucky Catch Cruises are offered from May to October and include two other routes: one that passes by Little Diamond/Great Diamond islands and Halfway Rock (Seals Rock) by Mackworth Island and another that cuts through the White Head Passage between Peaks and Cushing islands.

Lucky Catch is not the only company in Portland offering the public a chance to see lobstering up close and personal. Rocky Bottom Tours also offer lobster demonstration tours in Portland Harbor. Lobster boat tours are also available in Bar Harbor, Belfast, Boothbay Harbor, Freeport, Harpswell, Harrington, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Southwest Harbor and Swans Island.

Marianne LaCroix, executive director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, said lobster tours are an excellent way to learn firsthand about Maine’s lobster industry.

“There is nothing like getting out on a boat and seeing what’s involved,” she said. “People remember more if they are personally involved doing it rather than just a classroom-type environment hearing someone talking about it.”

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