Fishing is one of the main seasonal industries in Tignish. Fisherman Jonathan Pitre has become very busy and creative in developing an extension to seasonal employment for himself, and at times, for others as well.
What began as a winter hobby has now become an extension to off-season employment. At times, he hires a few extra sets of hands to complete the orders.
His business, called Western Custom Traps, specializes in building various types of lobster traps customized to the clients’ tastes. “I offer a variety of designs to potential buyers, which helps meet the needs of various fishers in different fishing regions.”
Typically, fishermen construct new traps during the winter months to replace any old or damaged traps from the season before. In 2010, Jonathan and his father Edmond found themselves with extra materials left over after they built their lobster traps. He put the left over materials to use, and constructed a small batch of wooden lobster traps to sell. He posted an ad on kijji, and soon a response came from Mabou, Cape Breton. He borrowed a trailer and headed to Nova Scotia to sell the batch.
Jonathan invested not only time but his own funds towards purchasing all required equipment for the business. “I then partnered with my friend Brett Bowness, and together we travelled to Nova Scotia, met with fishers, and showed them the various types of wooden traps we planned to manufacture.
Since then, production has steadily increased every year.
“My favourite part is talking to fishermen and hearing their stories about what traps work best for them and where. Fishing is a learning process. Every day and every season I gain more skills and knowledge about the industry. Surprisingly, some shapes and colours and designs of traps work better in some seasons than in others.”
His journey to being in business
“Three generations of my family work in the fishing industry, and I gained excellent knowledge and experience from them. I also learned from many others when I had the privilege to work on their vessels. I fished mackerel, herring, and lobster, and for four years I was a deckhand on a shrimp boat in Newfoundland. Once I fished 132 days straight on a large dragger.”
Jonathan, as many young seasonal fishers from PEI, worked for a time in the Alberta oil fields. “Fishing is my passion, and I always looked forward to returning home in spring to fish lobsters with my dad. Eventually, I purchased my own fall fishing gear.”
In the past few years, he dedicated time to establish and expand his hobby of trap building to replace the need to work away from home.
For more information about Western Custom Traps, call Brent Bowness (sales) at 902-809-3771 or Jonathan Pitre at 902-806-0041. Visit www.facebook.com/wctraps.