It all started as a dream – just a boy and his dog…
Des Fitzgerald found a spot of land on the Kendall Brook in Lincolnville, Maine, and he built a bungalow for himself and his dog, Caleb. In the beginning, Des wanted to farm trout. In 1978, he built several water runs and raised trout successfully for a few years, selling to the local restaurants and markets. Ducktrap River Fish Farm, named for the river into which the Kendall Brook flows, was born. Trout farming in Maine was perilous and after endlessly mending the nets that barely slowed down marauding otters, raccoons, skunks, and owls, Des decided to experiment with smoking some of his trout. He contacted the Federal Government to receive a booklet on how to build a smoker and smoke fish. Another building went up on his property, this time a smokehouse the size of a small icehouse (4′ x 4′). Des buried an old wood stove in the ground of the smokehouse and started smoking trout.
Selling his smoked trout to local markets, Des achieved an amazing level of success, not knowing at the time he would develop a brand that would one day become known among some of the best smoked seafood in the industry.
Over the next five years, a line of high quality, wholesome smoked seafood was developed using traditional European smoking methods. Some of these products were little known to the food industry: to the best of our knowledge, we were one of the first companies to smoke mussels.
Here are some other interesting facts from our history:
- 1981 – Des purchased his first ‘real’ smoker from England.
- 1987 – Kendall Brook was introduced as a brand name.
- 1989 – The first plant manager was hired.
- 1990 – The first mechanical pin-bone machine and our first automatic slicing machine were purchased – both were the first to be used in the United States.
- 1991 – Winter Harbor brand cold-smoked salmon was produced.
- 1996 – Spruce Point brand salmon line was created.
- 1998 – The first kiln with its own environmental control system (a refrigerated kiln to control moisture within it) was purchased. It was the first such kiln in the United States and one of only seven in the world.
- 2013 – Doubled capacity with a 4.5 million dollar expansion adding 21,000 square feet.
In 1991, Ducktrap River moved to our current location: a brand new state-of-the-art facility in Belfast. This allowed us to maintain a strict adherence to the highest quality standards while pursuing the goal of being the leader in value-added seafood processing. Our all natural products, which have no preservatives and no artificial ingredients, allow us to maintain our mission – to ‘wow’ each customer, one bite at a time.
In 30 years, Ducktrap River of Maine has gone from two workers to 100 employees. What started as a small trout farm selling to local businesses has blossomed into a full scale 45,000 sq. ft. seafood smoking facility that sends high quality, all natural smoked products all across the country. From our strict HAACP program to our long term employee loyalty, we are proud to introduce ourselves to you.
Today all 4 of our brands (Ducktrap, Kendall Brook, Winter Harbor, Spruce Point) are still in production.