Richard “Dick” Kent, Jr. grew up on neighboring Swans Island where his family has been for about five generations. His father owned and operated Richard Kent Lobster, where as a child, Dick grew up working the docks and felt that Swans was the center of it all. Measuring and selling bait, buying and selling Maine lobster, it was a family business. When not working, Dick and his brother would bait traps right off the wharf and see what they could catch.
At age 11, Dick shelled out, spent $2 and purchased his commercial fishing license, the same license he uses today. He started fishing on a 12’ skiff with a 6hp outboard. By the time Dick was in high school, he was out, hauling his 125 wooden traps by hand, and loved it. During the 1960s, lobstering was not a very prosperous industry, and many fishermen were often looking for better opportunities. Regardless, Dick was drawn to the shore, and knew that he wanted to be a fisherman. Getting started as a fisherman is no easy task, but Dick had a little help from his father, as well as local Swans Island fisherman, Carlton Joyce. Interestingly enough, he was even given a good loan on traps from another lobster buyer across the bay, Curtis Heanssler of Heanssler Lobster.
This loan was paid off quickly, because Dick had eyes for Curtis’ daughter, Becky. In fact, this fall of 2017 marks 46 years of marriage! Dick feels fortunate to have lived on Swans and Deer Isle, where fishing and fishermen really are his community, “I live at the shore, you know, I don’t have other hobbies, it’s all the shore, fishing…” Dick admitted happily. He’s helped a number of younger fishermen log hours, and get their commercial fishing licenses. This sense of community is felt on and off the water, “young guys come by, and check on us in the winter” Dick reflected, “it’s a good community.”
These days, Dick can be seen on F/V: Copy Cat, a 38’ Holland, named so because his brother-in-law, Darryl Knowlton, has the very same boat. This year marks the third season with Robert Hutchinson on the stern. “He’s the nicest guy” said Dick, “we get along great.” After jumping on a bit last year, this will be the first full season with Daniel Kolyscher onboard as third man. Dick is really pleased with his crew, and loves being out on the water, “It’s always a surprise! You never know what you’re going to get.”
After fishing through 34 winters, Dick decided that was plenty, and the boat comes out by wintertime, “I enjoy the time off in the winter, I really do.” He used to go dragging for scallops and urchins, or pick crab when the lobster catch was really low, but these days he sticks solely to lobstering. When asked what is the craziest thing Dick has seen while out fishing, he reflected, “a house on the horizon—it was a home going across Jericho Bay from Lubec on a barge…”
Dick’s favorite way to eat Maine lobster— lobster rolls. When asked what does a ‘lobster roll’ mean to Dick, he replied, “Becky and I make ‘em straight,” meaning a toasted roll, a little mayo and a lot of lobster. When asked about Becky and her part in Dick’s career as a fisherman, he replied, “she does about everything. I worship the ground she walks on. 46 years this fall, she’s a good woman and I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Dick wanted to be sure that his sentiment for Greenhead Lobster was included, “I really do love selling to Greenhead Lobster, to be able to come in and have a whole crew on the dock greeting us, helping us out, with all the bait you need loaded right onto the boat, it’s so much better than it used to be.” This positive attitude is difficult to overlook! In fact, Dick was one of this year’s inductees into the Fishermen’s Hall of Fame last week! The Island Fishermen’s Wives Association say that a fisherman must meet the following criteria to be inducted, “has fished up through the ranks from outboard to present size boat. That person has always fished as their vocation, they didn’t take it up later in life. That person learned from someone else and passed that knowledge forward to the younger generation. They are always there to help others. He or she has helped retrieve boats, bodies and traps. They are not a bully and do not try to catch them all. If possible, they have served in some way to better the fishing industry. They have respected the ocean. He or she has time for questions that need answers. This person can tell a joke with a straight face, especially when pulling someone’s leg.” For all of these reasons and more, congratulations, Dick! Thank you and Becky for all you do!