The beginning of Florida lobster season gets many divers more excited than kids at Christmas. Barely able to sleep, the divers nestle all snug in their beds, while visions of lobster dance in their heads. Whether locals or out-of-state visitors, many arrange their vacation plans around this special time, either during the two-day mini-season or the actual start of lobster season on Aug. 6.
Mini season falls on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July, while the regular season is Aug. 6 to March 31. Some will brave the two-day mini season, when tourists descend on the state, and some simply wait until Aug. 6 when things calm down.
The most popular destination in Florida is The Keys, where shallow warm waters provide great breeding grounds and easy dives. However, the east coast from Miami to Jupiter and beyond can also be popular and productive destinations. Generally speaking, the farther north you go, the farther out and deeper you will need to dive, but you can also be rewarded with larger lobsters.
The biggest challenge is finding lobster spots. Divers who find good spots tend to go back to them year after year and, understandably, don’t like to share their locations. However, there are plenty of charter boats that specialize in taking new divers or tourists to productive spots.
What you need to know:
1) A recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit are required to harvest spiny lobsters. Information is available online at MyFWC.com.
2) The recreational limit for spiny lobster is six per person, and the carapace must be longer than 3 inches. By law, it must be measured in the water. Possession and use of a measuring device are required at all times. You can google “how to measure a lobster” to be sure you are doing it correctly.
3) The possession of egg-bearing lobster is prohibited. Egg-bearing lobsters have hundreds of orange eggs that are easily visible and attached under the tail. While most lobsters have completed reproduction by the start of season, some still have eggs in August and beyond.
4) Do not take lobsters using any device which could puncture, penetrate or crush the lobster. The most common methods are the net and tickle stick combination or the looper. There are plenty of videos online to show you how to use each method.
5) Lobsters must be landed in whole condition. Separating the tail from the body is prohibited in state waters, so bring a cooler large enough to hold the entire catch until you reach land.
6) Although most people wring/twist the tail, it’s possible to get more meat by cooking the whole lobster. Just split it in two lengthwise and broil.
Sheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer of “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram.