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CUNDYS HARBOR, Maine ― When winter fell on this quiet, wooded island, instinct took over. Birds flew south. Trees shed leaves. Dain Bichrest set his alarm for 3 a.m.
Reaching a calloused hand through the frigid darkness, he silenced the device, stretched and started a routine that finished with the sea captain boarding his 42-foot boat and voyaging two hours into the Gulf of Maine to fishing grounds teeming with Northern shrimp. It became so routine he’d start to wake automatically.
For fishermen like Bichrest, the small, tangerine-pink curlicues ― whose tenderness and sweet taste chefs from Manhattan bistros to New England clam shacks prize as a delicacy ― provided a supplemental source of income in the cold months after lobster season peaked in mid-December.
For decades, a good day trawling the undersea gulches where Pandalus borealis thrive meant hauling 10,000 pounds of shrimp from the Gulf of Maine’s deeps. A bad day netted a catch closer to 1,000 pounds.
That’s the way it used to be. These days, to use a descriptor made saltier by Bichrest’s thick Downeast accent, the fishing is just shit.
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