On the dying art of Weir fishing in Maine:
When Foster rebuilt the Money Cove weir in 2002, he talked with an old-timer named Bill Blass, who had fished the weir for years, about the cove’s rocky bottom, the contours of that bottom, the tidal patterns, and the arrival of phosphorescent organisms. During the “August darks,” when the tides are on and running hard, phosphorescent organisms can light up, or “fire,” weirs, almost like daylight. Light provides a good example of the enigmatic nature of herring. While they flee the electric lights onboard purse seiners, so the boats fish in darkness, as the day dims toward twilight, herring tend to migrate upward to feed near the surface, sometimes chasing luminescent organisms. (When you gut fish in the dark, you can find tiny glowing orbs in their stomachs.) In the late 19th century, dorymen exploited this behavior by lighting birchbark and kerosene torches over their bows and scooping the fish out of the water. One night when they were in their teens, Foster’s sons Carter and Justin collected wood along the beach and lit a huge bonfire under the high cliffs near their dad’s weir. The following day, the Fosters hauled in the biggest bunch of herring they had ever seen.