Summer in the Florida Keys can be many things to many people, but Lobster Season draws a plethora of visitors to the chain of islands with beautiful reefs loaded with the delectable creatures. Catching a limit of Florida Spiny lobster is not a difficult task and needs very little equipment. With a few simple tools and a way to get on the water, a delicious lobster dinner is not only possible but also likely.
The Keys fill to capacity during the two-day mini-lobster season that always falls on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July. While a great many lobsters are taken on these days, the regular season running from August 6 to March 31 allows for ample chances of great catches.
Needing just a mask, snorkel, fins and gloves as well as a Florida recreational saltwater fishing license with a lobster stamp (available at most fishing tackle shops and tax collectors offices), divers can work shallow reefs and structures looking for the crustaceans under rock, coral and any object that may hide lobster. Some prefer using a tickle stick and net, coaxing the lobster with a fiberglass or aluminum stick into a waiting net (a small to medium short-handled landing type net works best). Still others use a snare type device that you ease over the tail of the lobster. It wraps around the lobster’s center, allowing harmless removal for measurement. Every diver should have his or her own lobster gauge that makes measuring every lobster simple and allows for instant release should it be undersized.
Florida regulations state that the carapace must be greater than 3 inches and must be measured in the water. It is also important to note that the lobster must be kept in a whole state while on board, with no egg-bearing females allowed. A mesh net bag is a good way to collect your catch, and the variety with the hinged wire ring opening makes placing lobsters in the bag easier. Other than a dive flag or flags for the boat and divers in the water, all other equipment could be considered optional.
A tow-rope or similar device is handy for pulling a diver in order to cover more ground looking for potential spots. Also good for location scouting is a bucket with a plexiglass bottom allowing the viewing of the bottom without having to jump in. Sting relief remedies are also a good idea to have aboard should you run across some jellyfish or fire coral.
With just this basic equipment and knowledge of the laws and restricted areas (http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/lobster/) you can be well on your way to a well-earned lobster dinner.