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Young North Haven boy continues generations-long family tradition of lobstering

Argyle MacDonald lives on the island of North Haven, off the coast of Rockland. He's eight years old and recently got his own boat and license to lobster.

NORTH HAVEN, Maine — If his sandy blonde hair and freckles don't give it away — eight-year-old Argyle MacDonald loves spending time on the ocean. Born and raised on the island of North Haven off the coast of Rockland, Argyle has the saltwater in his blood — and that blood runs generations deep.

Since he was four years old, Argyle has been going out to sea with his Dad, Jason MacDonald, who has been lobstering for 40 years and counting. Jason was also born and raised on the island and started learning the craft around Argyle's age. 

"I like just watching the buoys bob in the water," Jason said. "You never know what you’re going to catch. Crabs are cool. Starfish are cool."

Now, Argyle is following his Dad's footsteps. He recently got his own skiff and a motor for it, thanks to some help from family friends on the island. He also now has his own lobstering license, giving him permission to set up 10 traps for the time-being. 

"I only have five out right now," Argyle said, grunting moments later, as he pulled one heavy trap out of the water. He said his favorite part about the craft is measuring lobsters to see if they're the right size to keep.

"I like all of it. It’s fun," Argyle said.

"It kind of brings you back to when you were young and starting out, doing stuff like that — just being out in a skiff and going swimming and hanging out with friends and doing stuff like that," Jason noted about watching his son's progress.

There's also another man in the mix who has been a mentor to Argyle: his great-grandfather — or "Grandpa", as he calls him — Gene Gove. He had his lobstering license for 70 years and retired five years ago. He said back then, lobsters were only 23 cents per pound.

"You’ve got to love it in order to stay in it," Gene said. "Some days, you think you’ll get rich, and you don’t. Some days, you think you’re going to starve to death, and you don’t."

Gene said helping Argyle learn is something he's happy to do.

"I enjoy going with him. It’s the fresh air," Gene explained.

Laura MacDonald is Gene's daughter and Argyle's Mom. She herself fished for 18 years as a stern-lady. Retired now, she understands Argyle's pull toward the ocean.

"I think being on the island is part of it," MacDonald said. "It’s in your blood. You just love to be on the water. All of these kids love to be on the water, if it’s swimming or fishing or any of it."

She thanks their small community for the support Argyle sees every day.

"He looks up to a lot of these guys that fish on the water — all of them. When he launched his boat, they were so excited for him — and it was so great to see everybody cheering and giving him a big thumbs up," Laura smiled.

After years spent practicing their craft, Jason and Gene do have some concerns about the future. They said they wonder what the industry might look like for Argyle, if he sticks with it. Regardless, Argyle is fully invested right now.

"I’m excited for him. I hope it treats him well," Jason reflected.

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