Joel Woods

Images from Offshore


About 150 miles offshore in the Gulf of Maine is a world few of us other than fishermen have ever seen. Maine fisherman Joel Woods has fished out there for two decades. He is one of the few to land images from this offshore world. Working 24 hour days and surviving where in a few hours it can go from flat calm to a roaring, wind-driven nightmare of mountainous seas demands a particular type of human character.

Woods has said he is more at home at sea than on land. His photographs in part explain why. A lot of fishermen die every year doing this work. He has known some of them personally. He has gone overboard twice in winter. “I said to myself, ‘Just relax, they’ll turn around and get me.’ ”

Woods has carried a camera for as long as he can remember. He is also a founding member of the Maine Lobstering Union. As this is being written, less than 24 hours after the biggest winter storm of the 2017 season dumped 24 inches of snow on coastal New England, Woods is sailing 200 miles offshore to fish lobster at the Hague Line.

Hauling seine nets in the middle of the night.


Clear day offshore with seas running high.


A short break in a long night of lobster fishing.


Western Sea seining herring.


Sharptail sunfish surfacing to check out who’s on board.

All photos copyright © Joel Woods.