Lobster Season is the envy of many a southerner, especially us Floridians. It is practically a state holiday and is an event that families have been safely enjoying for decades. However, there always seems to arise stories of accidents ranging from injuries and fatalities to damaging of the environment that give the holiday a bad reputation. “Its not the fact that the people come down to take the lobster that is the issue. Sure we don’t like the extra traffic but these people bring business, we want them — and there’s plenty of (legal) lobster. Its just that when they are disrespectful or aren’t knowledgeable — of the rules of the water, regulations of fishing and the proper ways of lobstering, we begin to resent their invasive presence,” says FL Keys local Don R. “People need to know what they are doing before they get down here”. These words spoken from a true local are what made us decide to write this article, so here it goes.
Don’t Make These 5 Lobstering Mistakes!
1. Don’t Lobster without Knowing ALL the Rules and Obtaining your Recreational Lobster Licence
Federal and State Laws regulate the size and methods of obtaining Florida Spiny Lobster. Therefore, know the rules and get your license. Harvesting rules vary depending upon which region or county you are in, so be sure to know which apply to you. Sizing Rules are universal statewide and require the carapace to measure larger than 3″ and for the lobster to be a non egg-bearing female.
Click the picture below for Official Rules and Licensing:
2. Don’t Lobster without Knowing Boating Laws and How to Safely Operate Your Vessel
Safe operation of a vessel is imperative to a safe and successful day of fun on the water. Any activity on a boat or on the water can be hazardous and proper caution should be maintained. This includes knowing how to completely operate that vessel, knowing your channel markers and waterways, being aware of where you are anchoring, knowing where all emergency gear is on board, knowing where all divers are at all times and being conscious of others and wildlife on or in the water. You never want to harm or put a loved-one in danger Finnes for disruption of wildlife habitat by use of boat can be costly so be aware and be safe!
Click the picture below to get your FREE Boater’s License from Boat US Foundation:
3. Don’t Lobster without Knowing How to Dive or Snorkel
Many aspects of lobstering are taken for granted by people whom frequently do it. These include the novices ability to properly clear their ears, hold their breathe, swim with fins and tools, etc. Be aware of this when lobstering with friends and novices. Before ever getting into the water in search of lobster they must feel comfortable with the basics. Don’t go let them go into the water without practicing first.
Click the pictures below for Freediving and Scuba Diving Courses:
4. Don’t Forget Any Gear
Depending upon your method of lobstering the amount of gear needed will vary. Regardless, you need to make a checklist and make sure you don’t forget anything! Lobster, Tickle Stick, Measuring Gauge, Lobster Bag, Fins, Mask, Snorkel, Gloves, etc. Make that list and check it twice.
Stop in and supply yourself with all your lobstering gear and Red Rum Apparel at any of these retailers.
5. Don’t Leave without a Plan
A well implemented plan is the key to a successful lobster season. The lobster can be anywhere, especially being that the recent Hurricane Irma created new places for them to live. The flats, the reef, the wrecks, the bridges, all equally fair game to those on the hunt. However each spot bears its own characteristics. Tide shifts, rip currents, etc. must all be considered when choosing a good dive spot. There will be some spots that are better than others. Lobster spot numbers are usually the prizes of those who hold them (meaning they won’t share). This leaves many people starting from scratch but that is not a bad place to be. For those of you who are experienced and know where to find them, please do so with safety and enjoy your season! For those looking for some hints on where to go, please read the following:
Where to Look?
The flats on the sides of the channels (if accessible) can be good places to start. The lobsters live in the grass and especially on any ledges in that grass. If you’re headed to the reef, look for isolated coral heads before actually approaching the reef. Lobsters congregate together so in an isolated head about 100 yards from a main reef you can sometimes find groups of between 4-6 of them. When looking in the reef you have to really get down and look under and in the rocks. Look for the antennas in pairs to distinguish because they also hang out in smaller groups or solo, in which case it will be that big, fat, juicy one. Bridges can be good at the right time and place, but are not recommended for beginners. This is due to the dangerous tide shifts and frequent boat traffic. Wrecks can hold lobster if they consist of debris. Usually whole wrecks do not host lobster that is easily accessible, you have to search the wrecks that are broken-up and that have debris.
Hopefully this article was useful to you! With lobster mini season in Florida rapidly approaching, it is imperative to make sure you don’t make any of these lobstering mistakes. Now go get ’em!