June 20, 2023
Spiny Lobster is a delicious Florida delicacy but can be a bit pricey. With tails going for as much as $29.99, those adventurous and inclined might want to catch your own. Regular lobster season in Florida is August 6thand lasts until March 31st, but you can get a head start before the commercial operations start. It is called mini season and this year it is held on July 26th and 27th. Now is the time to get ready for it.
Daily bag limits and legal size is posted on the website of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Bag limits can vary by location. Currently it is 6 per person for Monroe County and Biscayne National Park and 12 per person for the rest of Florida. When on the water one must not possess more than the bag limit. And the authorities will be out to enforce limits both on and off water. Off water the limit is equal to the bag limit for the first day and double the bag limit for the second day. Lobster size will also be enforced. The carapace must be larger than 3 inches measured in the water. Possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times.
Note: Rules stated above are not comprehensive. Other rules apply. So be completely familiar with regulations stated on the FWC website.
The first piece of gear you need is a measuring device or gauge. It is used to be sure the carapace of the lobster is not too small. They are made of metal or plastic and are the only required piece of equipment.
Lobsters often hide in little nooks making them hard to get. A tickle stick is used to coax them out so they can be caught more easily. They can be made of metal or plastic as well. Clear acrylic ones can be less visible to them and have one other advantage. Placing a flashlight on the end of a clear tickle stick can direct light into dark crevices. The light travels down the length of the stick like fiber optics.
Once the lobster is out in the open, one can just grab it. Gloves are a good idea to protect you from the spines that give their name. Another option is to use a snare which looks like a tickle stick but has a cable loop on one end and a knob on the other. The trick is to get the loop around the lobster then pull the knob which constricts the loop.
The lobster is then measured with the gauge to ensure it is legal. If it is, then a bag is useful to hold your catch. Bags vary from simple draw string to various other closures to keep the lobster from escaping.
Not included in the list of lobstering gear is mask, snorkel and fins but these will help you greatly. Masks allow you to see better. Fins help you move to the bottom easier and snorkels allow you to breathe while keeping your face in the water. To stay safe while in the water, it’s important to have a diver down flag to warn watercraft of your presence so they don’t hit you. If you are SCUBA certified, you can stay down and collect without having to surface for air.