Family that fishes together: Bill MacEachern passing on tradition to next generation

Lobster season is under way in northeastern New Brunswick.

Fishermen set out from wharves all along the north shore and Acadian Peninsula at first light Monday morning to set their traps.

It's a time-honoured tradition, especially for Bill MacEachern, who has been fishing out of Tabusintac for 55 years.

Everything went well on day one, he told Shift's Vanessa Vander Valk.

"It went great. It was a beautiful day, everybody got set, there were only two or three boats that had little problems," he said. "Usually a few fellows have their motors go or something like that happen, but this year everybody was really lucky."

Good season expected

MacEachern and his crew set 300 traps, two full boatloads. It's more than just Monday's good start that had him feeling positive.

"We think it's going to be a good season, when the water warms up, I think you'll see some lobsters," he said.

"You never know until the companies pay you, but from the talk of it all over the Acadian Peninsula here where we live, they're talking big price, six, seven dollars a pound. So if we get that, it'll be a good year, there's no doubt about that."  

Last year the price ended up at $7 a pound, and MacEachern said it was a good year as well.

After 55 years on the water, he's seen it all in the industry.

"You wouldn't believe the changes," he said. "Now you're sitting in the cabin with all your electronics there. All the guys who own the boats, very few of them fish in the back of the boat. There is some that go back and help their men, but it's a lot different than when I started fishing."

When he started, there were really only two jobs in the area, fishing or working in the woods, he said.

"Our fathers did it, and we just picked it up from them and we stayed and did it," said MacEachern. "I have one son who fishes, and another one who's going to fish."

Now 70, he started fishing with his father at 15, and after three years got his own rig.

He said he'll fish another few years, as long as his health holds up.

Both sons love fishing

His oldest son Jamie has his own boat, and helps his father get his gear ready for the season. He's a good fisherman, said MacEachern.

His younger son Liam, 12, is still going to school, but "that's all he thinks of, is fishing," said MacEachern.

"He's not in school today, because he wanted to stay home for the first day for setting. Every chance he gets, he's involved. He was out with his brother today, was out with me this morning, he loves to fish."

 It looks like Bill MacEachern has someone to take over when he finally decides to give up the career.