TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Many people don’t think of Florida when someone says lobster but the Caribbean spiny lobster is a tasty treat and fun to catch!
They live in holes, rocks, ledges, under bridges and most reefs in Florida.
They are most commonly found in the Florida Keys and on the southeast coast of Florida.
The regular season runs from Aug. 6 to March 31. Before the regular season opens, there is a ‘mini’ season at the end of July. It is a 48-hour period on the last Wednesday and Thursday of the month.
This sport season is open for recreational fishermen to catch lobster before the commercial guys have a chance to put their lobster traps in the water so it is a little easier to find them.
There are different rules between the mini season and the regular season and different rules for different areas, like the Florida Keys.
Amanda’s annual family vacation revolves around the last week of July when she travels to the Keys for mini-season.
She catches lobster by snorkeling and scuba diving during the day and bully netting at night.
During the day, the lobsters hide in their rocks and ledges, away from predators.
She uses a ‘tickle stick’ and tickles the back of their tail to get them to come out of their hole. As they walk forward, she places the net over and on top of the lobster to trap it.
Spiny lobster leaves their holes at night to feed. In the Keys during mini season, you can’t get in the water to catch lobster at night but you can catch them with a bully net from a boat.
A bully net is a net with a long string attached to it which is all attached to a long pole at a 90-degree angle. When the winds are calm enough, you can float around the shallow grass flats with spotlights looking for the lobsters wandering around. When you find one, you plunge the net on top of the lobster, it will use its tail to shoot backward to try and get away but it will get caught in the net. Pull straight up and the lobster will be trapped inside from the ring on the net.
To keep a Florida lobster, its head has to be three inches long, no shorter. While lobstering, you have to have a measuring device with you. It should be measured before even leaving the water. You also cannot harvest egg-bearing lobsters, no matter how big they are. A female will have orange eggs on the bottom side of her tail.
Be sure to double and triple check all rules with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission before heading out to try your hand at catching lobster. The rules are quite strict and location dependent. If you are unsure, give them a call and ask!