A Deeper Dive

Winter as a Shellfisherman


The shortest month of the year is still a busy one for many Wellfleet shellfishermen. While the oysters sleep in their dormant winter state, oystermen like Curtis Graham have lots to do.

Graham, who is a shellfish farmer on Blackfish Creek, started pulling his oysters off in the first week of January, as it was a warm start to winter this year. “I finished with everything more or less a little over a week before the end of the month,” said Graham, who stores his oysters in a walk-in cooler, and a pit( root cellar). ”I will start bringing everything back out in the spring when the threat of ice is gone.”

While he admits to a certain amount of “hibernation” and travel in the off-season, Graham also tackles business paperwork and gear maintenance for the coming busy months of shellfish farming. “Between seasons it is a little bit of everything,” he says.

Graham feels that the lifestyle of shellfisherman chose him, rather than the other way around.”I wanted and needed something to complement my summer restaurant scene,” he says. “And it is thanks to Wellfleet for giving me the opportunity to bring the best oysters to the table.”

He feels that his occupation is a kind of therapy for him, and what you put into it, you get out of it. “It is a balance of exercise, tranquility, beauty, and bounty,” says Graham.

You may never see a rich oyster farmer, but you can always find a happy one.

Curtis Graham
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