Hugo “Sonny” Lehtinen Jr.

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Mrs. Constance Lehtinen photos -“Stop Seining” Herring in Tenants Harbor

Connie is the widow of Hugo “Sonny” Lehtinen Jr. and lives on Barters Point in the house where she and Sonny raised their family.

In the 1950’s, Sonny’s father, Hugo Lehtinen, pioneered the use of small aircraft to spot schools of herring entering local harbors where they could be “shut off” from escaping using long, small mesh “seines” to trap the fish for sale to sardine processors both in Maine and Canada.

These pictures are from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s showing Sonny with the boats and seine gear handed down to him by his father.

The photos also show larger vessels called “sardine carriers” used to transport the fish to local canneries and occasionally as far as New Brunswick, Canada.

One of those years, Sonny, and his crew shared over a million dollars in the sale of herring caught by this method.

During summer and early fall in the 70’s and 80’s St. George residents grew accustomed to seeing Sonny’s yellow plane circling over the peninsula every late afternoon trying to locate or “spot” schools of herring coming inshore for the night.

Floyd Watts also flew “spotting” for Hugo and Sonny in the 1960″s and early 1970’s. Floyd’s aerial exploits were legendary among locals.

This “stop seine” herring fishery was practiced up and down the coast by other local fishermen using the same basic technique and equipment.

This unique fishery ended statewide in the 1990’s when the fish stopped coming inshore and the sardine canneries closed.

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