Downeast Fisheries Trail: Otter Cove Fish Houses

In the late twentieth century, both sides of Otter Cove, now part of Acadia National Park and a site on the Downeast Fisheries Trail, were lined with fish houses that supported as many as twenty-five families.

Located in protected coves near fishing grounds, fish houses operated as staging areas for prepping bait, constructing traps, repairing nets, hooking lines, or sharing stories — all the outfitting necessary to fish for whatever species was in season. As the one remaining fish house in Otter Cove proves, these were more shacks than houses, often built out of randomly collected materials. And yet they were vital to fishermen who relied on skill, common sense, and each other for survival in the time before mechanization.

Fish houses began disappearing in the middle of the twentieth century, when technological advances transformed the world’s fishing industry.