Lobster Hunting Anyone? – The Florida Keys

LOBSTER DIVING IN FLORIDA

– Fun for the whole family… 

 

 

Yes, Lobster Diving,

The best lobster spots are located on the Gulf (Bay) side of the Middle Keys just north of Marathon, south of Long Key and the 7 Mile Bridge. This is due to the abundant natural Lobster Habitat found in the area including: Duck Key, Long Key, Conch Key, Lower Matecumbe Key. The rocks surrounding the bridges of Duck Key are an especially popular spot for catching lobster. There may be 10 other groups there, but there will be more than enough lobster to go around.

It’s A Huge Deal in The Great State of Florida. Just a quick stop off at Walmart for some cheep gear and your off to a cheap family vacation for the entire family.

Only six percent of the world’s population can or is certified when it comes to Scuba Diving.

 It’s for this reason Lobster Diving is so popular, the only requirement is to be able to swim in 4 to 6 feet of clear blue water. This has become a favorite inexpensive way for families to enjoy a last minute holiday weekend, vacation or holiday.

Every July the coastal areas of Florida are flooded with lobster hunters trying to get their share of this year’s bounty when the offical mini lobster season kicks off. There are two Florida Lobster Seasons, the 2 day mini season and the 8 month regular lobster season. The mini lobster season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. 

The regular 8 month lobster season is always August 6 through March 31.

2021 Lobster Season and Mini Season Dates

The 2021 mini lobster season like all lobster mini seasons is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. Next year the mini season falls on July 28th and 29th

Make sure to always verify dates and regulations with Florida Fish and Wildlife It begins at 12:01 am on Wednesday and ends at 12:00 midnight on Thursday.

The regular 8 month lobster season is always August 6 through March 31.

There are some no-take zones, in the Florida Keys. National Marine Sanctuary (marked by yellow buoys), John Pennekamp State Park, Looe Key Sanctuary and the Biscayne Bay-Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary are off-limits. But almost every other dive site is open to lobster hunting.

Where To Hunt

You can catch Florida’s spiny lobsters up and down the coasts of Florida there are some areas which are better than others. Here are what seem to be the favorite areas.

The Florida Keys

Monroe County has the largest population of lobsters in the state and also draws the most lobster divers.

About 70 percent of all lobster collected in Florida come from the reefs in Monroe County. During the mini-season bag limits are smaller here and diving at night is illegal. If you are interested in getting in on the mini-season, book your hotel or campsite early as they fill up quick!

MONROE COUNTY CAMPGROUNDS

 

The Florida Keys are also included as part of Monroe County

Little known places to find Florida lobster

Lobsters are heavily pursued in the Keys. Finding them where other people don’t look takes more effort, but can result in a hefty catch. Below we put you on track to find those unknown places.

Near Shore Coral Heads is a Great Spot with Small Boat

This is the first area and the closest to shore. They are small groups of coral in shallow water, about ten feet deep. It’s possible to hit some of their tops with a prop on a low tide. They’re too far out to swim to from shore, but easy to reach with a small boat. Visibility is often poor, especially if the wind and waves are up.

The best ones are where there’s an inner circle of coral, then a ring of sand, then turtle grass. Smaller areas can often be better, as fewer people visit them. The best technique here is to quietly slip under the surface and slowly swim close to the bottom as you circle the coral. The water is too shallow to stay on the surface until you spot a lobster. You’ll often frighten them when you dive under. After your first pass, go around again. Look under the ledges. This second pass will often turn up a prize . The third step is to explore the inner parts of the coral patch.

The Patch Reefs with Small Boat

The Patch Reefs are in Hawks channel between the Keys and the reef. From a boat they’ll appear as darker patches, similar to a cloud shadow. So similar that I’ve stopped at shadows. Check before you anchor and dive in.

Don’t run over the coral patch and alarm the wildlife. Always anchor on the sand away from it. It will make retrieving the anchor easier, and saves the coral from anchor damage.

They’re in about 25 feet of water. Deep enough that you can circle the edges from the surface without scattering the fish. That is if you can see the bottom. Visibility is often far from ideal and the coral isn’t that great. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as many divers never visit these areas. These are excellent places for hogfish, especially along the line where the coral meets the sand or grassy areas. Nurse sharks are common on the patch reefs. They get bold and will go after a speared fish or your goodie bag.

Best  places to go free style lobstering in the Florida Keys

From the Shores

Best at Stretch of Red Xs From Layton to Marathon on Bay Side

Ok, Where to Stay!  As you can see on the map Duck Key is situated right in the middle of all the action, Also being more populated some of the best deals on accommodations in The Florida Keys.  Check Out These Links!

TRIPADVISOR

 BOOKING.COM

HOTELS.COM

 

SEA SQUAD CHARTERS FOR SNORKELING LOBSTER HUNT TRIPS

CAPTAIN KEVIN ‘S LOBSTER HUNTS

ALL DEEP SEA AND WATERSPORT CHARTERS IN THE KEYS

DAY TRIPS AND TOURS IN THE KEYS

THINGS TO DO ON THE KEYS WHEN NOT LOBSTER HUNTING

 

 

GET THE BEST DEALS ON FLIGHTS!

We highly encourage landing in Miami and driving the Florida Keys

-It’s an Experience everyone should Experience!

AIRFAIRWATCHDOG


Airfarewatchdog

The edges of grass flats

 

Bully netting is a popular way to catch lobster at night. This is done on shallow grass flats. The lobsters leave their daytime home to roam the flats searching for food. Strong lights are used to pick out the glint of their eyes and find them. A special long-handled bully net is used to lay flat on the ground around the lobster. He’s then spooked into the net. But where are these lobster during the day?

They’re usually in holes on the edge of the flat. Any trough or drop off in or around a turtle grass flat may contain holes with lobsters residing. This can be in surprisingly shallow water. I’ve caught a lot of legal lobster in water I could stand up in. The best flats for this are in the backcountry. There are excellent places that nobody ever goes to. One reason is they’re hard to reach. Another is that there’s no structure, and third, they’re so shallow that people don’t suspect lobster are there.

There’s usually only one lobster per hole. The holes can be difficult to find as they’re often partially covered by turtle grass. Tickling the lobster out may work, but these lobster are quicker than most to shoot back into the hole. There’s a reason for this. Often the hole has a back exit. This is nearly always on top of the flat, well disguised with grass. It pays to have a partner on the flat watching for them. Sometimes the hole can be spotted before chasing the lobster out. Placing a net over it will result in a lobster darting into it.

The best spots often have currents ripping through them. Time it were the current is reasonably slack. I have scars on my feet from fighting the current with only socks under my fins. We were having so much fun and catching so many lobsters that I couldn’t stop. I hope you have as much fun, but without the scars.

Under the mangroves

This is an enjoyable way to catch lobster,  it can be productive. Some mangrove islands have an edge undercut by a current. This cut is often deep enough that you can swim under the mangroves. It’s dark  under there, and the lobster love it.

You need a little current to swim into. Your fins will kick up a lot of muck. If the current doesn’t carry it away, visibility drops to zero. The lobster are in holes on the side and over your head. Tickling them out doesn’t work because there’s usually a drop before they’re on the bottom. They don’t float down to the bottom. They dart away. A tool I use here is a bent spear shaft or any similarly shaped stiff stick. I try to poke this into the hole behind the lobster blocking him from retreating deep into his hiding place. I then grab him with a gloved hand. If he does go deeper, I shove my arm way into the hole and get him. Moray eels are rare in the mangroves so I’ve always gotten away with it, but it isn’t the most enjoyable or safest way to get dinner.

There are no go zones in this area as well. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, John Pennekamp State Park, and a few Sanctuaries as well.

The lobster can be found in waters as shallow as 3 feet down to more than 100 feet.

The Gold Coast

While the reefs of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach aren’t as busy as the Keys, there are certainly areas which are very rich in lobster.

During the mini season, there are no rules about night diving so some local dive operators offer around the clock charter service.

The East Coast

From Vero Beach to Jacksonville, lobster hunting season is a big deal to local hunters.

There are secret spots which you will be hard pressed to coax out of the locals where there are still plenty of lobster! There are plenty of shore dives which can result in decent catches and offshore three tank trips which visit more remote and less fished locations.

 

 

You can also find Spiny Lobsters in the Florida panhandle

Spiny Lobsters in Destin

This area as you can will see is more suited for Scuba Divers

Have you heard of hunting for spiny lobsters in Destin? Neither had we until Newman-Dailey a local, enlightened us.

“I’ve truly met my match when it comes to spiny lobsters here in Destin.  In most of the Caribbean, they can be found free diving in 60 feet of water to as little as six feet of water and around most any type of structure or coral head, which is easily accessible by boat. But not in Destin!  These guys make you work for ‘em.  

If you are lucky enough to be one of the few who gets the chance to spot a spiny lobster here in Destin, it doesn’t mean that you have any guarantees that you will catch one. However, you can be guaranteed a few things if you do see one: they will be absolutely gigantic and they will not give up without a fight.  The lobsters that get to this size don’t get this way because they are weak and stupid. They get to be this size because they are smart, fast and determined not to succumb to any other predator–not man nor fish.  

In order for you to catch one, the spiny lobster must have a minimum carapace (the bony shield covering the back of an animal) that is greater than 3-inches long. The carapace is measured beginning at the forward edge between the rostral horn and proceeding along the middle to the rear edge of the carapace. The monsters we find in Destin are at a minimum measurement of 9- inches.  The spiny lobsters that you see in my picture have a carapace measurement of 11 to 14- inches, which truly make them monsters.

 

We have kids and teens. This makes  South Florida and the Florida Keys our first choice to go Lobster diving. There are two ways to catch them in these areas. Hang out and watch the locals on the rocky beaches, ask any of the local bait and tackle shops where the hot spots are  or get one of the many guide services you see below. They take you to the preferable spots drop anchor, gear you up and help supervise the kids and the nervous nellies.

How To Catch Lobster In The Florida Keys Without Scuba Tanks

Inshore Fishing

It’s Spiny Lobster Time!!!

Here are some lobster catching tips that I wish someone had taught me the very first time I went lobstering.

 

Once you know how to catch lobster in the Florida Keys, the opening of lobster season (both mini and then the full season) can be an incredibly FUN & DELICIOUS event…

The reason the Florida lobster season is so cherished is because lobster diving in the Keys is amazing on so many fronts:

You don’t need to dive into deep water to get a lobster 

No Scuba Skills Needed!

The type of lobster most common in the Keys is called Spiny Lobster.

The lobster in the Keys just have two antennae up front and a bunch of sharp points along their body so the only harm they can do to you is poke holes in your hands… make sure you wear thick gloves whenever handling them.

Lobster in the Keys are often found in less than 10 ft of water, so using a tank is not required.

Lobster hide under any sort of structure on the bottom they can find… rock ledges, coral heads, thick vegetation, and any other form of cover on the bottom can make a great holding spot for lobster.

 

How to Catch Spiny Lobster While Snorkeling

 

First and foremost, the key to catching lobster while snorkeling is to RELAX.

As a first timer you may find yourself short of breath or your heart is beating heavily, just stay on the surface until your breathing and heartbeat is normalized before going back down.

Being relaxed causes…

Longer Breath Hold.

Catch More Lobster:

A controlled approach to a ledge with a bunch of lobster is essential, once you scare one they all will take off like bandits,

HERE’S A VIDEO ON HOW TO CATCH ONE – MUST SEE – HERE

how to catch spiny lobster in florida

 

Divers depend on several tools to find and catch lobsters. A good waterproof flashlight is helpful in cavernous stretches of reef. Kevlar gloves are essential — they don’t call them “spiny” lobsters for nothing, and urchin and lionfish quills pose other hazards. 

 

Hunting for lobsters is like an underwater treasure hunt. In shallow water where limited bottom time isn’t an issue, divers hug the bottom and peer into every nook and cranny. In deeper water where bottom time is precious, good divers spend time hugging the bottom in the most productive areas, then rise up a bit to conserve air while hoping to lobster legs wiggling out of a hole. 

Divers typically carry a “tickle stick” and/or a loop snare. A transparent tickle stick works well to tease lobsters out of holes and into grabbing range. The loop snare can be used to “tickle out” a bug until you have enough room to get the loop behind the tail. Usually, the lobster will walk backward into the loop and when it does you constrict the snare. Of course, you need a bag to hold the bugs, and the various “lobster inn” devices keep them from escaping. 

 

Regulations require lobster hunters to have a saltwater fishing license and lobster stamp. You must carry a gauge to measure the carapace, which must be longer than three inches. 

THATS ALL YOU NEED EXCEPT SOME LEMON BUTTER!

Ok, Where to Stay!  As you can see on the map Duck Key is situated right in the middle of all the action, Also being more populated some of the best deals on accommodations in The Florida Keys.  Check Out These Links!

TRIPADVISOR

 BOOKING.COM

HOTELS.COM

 

SEA SQUAD CHARTERS FOR SNORKELING LOBSTER HUNT TRIPS

CAPTAIN KEVIN ‘S LOBSTER HUNTS

ALL DEEP SEA AND WATERSPORT CHARTERS IN THE KEYS

DAY TRIPS AND TOURS IN THE KEYS

THINGS TO DO ON THE KEYS WHEN NOT LOBSTER HUNTING

 

 

GET THE BEST DEALS ON FLIGHTS!

We highly encourage landing in Miami and driving the Florida Keys

-It’s an Experience everyone should Experience!

AIRFAIRWATCHDOG


Airfarewatchdog

 

Now Boil Some Water!   

Yum!

Crustastun: For Killing Lobsters Humanely

For those of you who worry about the pain and suffering a lobster endures while being cooked, there is the Crustastun, which the company of the same name says is the world’s first humane way to kill lobsters–before you eat them!

“The application of a stun (110 Volts, 2-5 amps) causes an immediate interruption in the functioning of the nervous system of the shellfish,” according to Crustastun’s site. The single stunner kills lobsters and crayfish in about 5 seconds. The “continuous flow” stunner lets you engage in humane execution in a speedy, more economical manner.

As if this were not enough, there is a further bonus. Any bacteria developing in the live crustacean are also killed by the voltage, making them a safe food for up to 48 hours before cooking them. This is a great attraction for restaurants that lose money buying in live lobsters that die when in storage.

 

.They found that putting them in the fridge before cooking to numb them up, (as happens naturally in winter), resulted in the lowest number of tail twitches. So, according to modern science, a few minutes in the freezer means less agony in the kettle.

The most common way to cook lobster is to steam it in sea water (or salted water) for 10-15 minutes.

Boiling Instructions:

 

Fill a pot (large enough to hold the lobsters) anywhere from one-half to two-thirds full with water. Use about 1 gallon of water per lobster so it is deep enough to submerge the lobster by at least 3 inches.

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of salt for each quart of water. (If sea water is available, even better. Skip the salt.) Bring the water to a strong boil over high heat.
  2. Place the live lobsters in one at a time, headfirst, completely submerging them. Pick up the lobster by holding the upper side of the thorax between your thumb and middle finger.

 

Cover the pot tightly and return to a boil as quickly as possible. AFTER the water boils start timing, and regulate the heat to prevent water from boiling over, but be sure to keep the water boiling throughout the cooking time. Melt some butter while you wait.

Carefully remove lobsters from the pot with tongs. Be careful, they are very hot. Set in a large bowl for five minutes to cool before cracking.

When a lobster boils it retains a lot of water. Pierce the body and tail with a knife to help drain the water.

 

Hold the underside of the body away from you, because the lobster have a tendency to flip the jointed tail, splattering water. You can cook more than one lobster in a pot as long as there is enough room and water to cover the lobsters. (If you do not have a big enough pot use two smaller pots or cook your lobsters in batches.)

How To Crack Open A Boiled Lobster

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2How-to-Crack-Open-a-Lobster-027

3How-to-Crack-Open-a-Lobster-042

4How-to-Crack-Open-a-Lobster-045

What’s the green stuff?

It’s the lobster’s liver or more accurately, its digestive system. Although many people like to eat the “tomalley” it probably isn’t a good idea because this is where pollution in the lobster’s own meal choices would become concentrated in the lobster’s body.

What’s the red stuff?

It’s the roe, the unfertilized eggs of the female. Lobster eggs were once considered a delicacy, like caviar. The roe is also called “coral” because of its bright red color.

What is the nutritional value of lobster?

Nutritional studies show that 3 1/2 ounces of lobster meat (without the butter) contains only 90 calories, compared to 163 calories for the same amount of chicken and 280 calories for sirloin steak. Lobster also contains omega-3 fatty acids, the “good ” cholesterol that seems to reduce hardening of the arteries and decrease the risk of heart attacks.

 

WHY WOULD YOU ASK THIS QUESTION?

Can You  Microwave Lobster?

There is a great answer and a great reason for asking!

 Lets imagine for a moment that we are on a Lobster Dive Mini Trip. We checked into a hotel instead of a rental house or condo. We’ve caught our dinner, now what do we do?

Remember shellfish must be eaten within 12 hours unless frozen.

Yes we can make this work…

How to get a Lobster ready to Cook without feeling bad about it

You see live lobsters are a unique food in that they must be cooked or processed quickly soon after they are out of their cold seawater medium. 

But the tradition of cooking lobsters alive is one that disturbs people. The idea of plunging the creature into a boiling pot of water to meet a painful death can be a bit off-putting – but it might not be the whole story.  Here’s how to prepare a lobster without feeling bad about it.

Let’s put the lobster to sleep.

Look at the diagram of the lobster’s below,

We know you don’t have a freezer, if you did you would place the lobster in the freezer for 10 minutes. This actually puts the lobster to sleep. An ice chest full of ice will do. They are most likely in there already. Take out the lobster he won’t be moving. This is the best way to achieve the goal. Flip the lobster over, (diagram 2) and simply take a knife or ice pick is easiest and hit the X to the back of the shell.

Was doing this at the Chateaubriand before I got an order in the window to boil 

Got laughed at by everyone back then, but it was the 70s  An entirely different world

I still think this is better than electric burst.

Thats it!  All Done Let’s Eat

But First We Have Some Cooking To Do

In a pinch to cook lobsters and don’t have a pot? Yup, you can zap them in the microwave. It actually steams the lobster in its own shell. First things first. 

Make sure you follow the steps above.

It may take slightly shorter time than the recommended steaming time but only microwave one lobster at a time!

Does microwaved lobster taste the same?  Microwaving a lobster cooks it in its’ own juices and the shell imparts extra flavor. It also stays hotter longer since it cooks in a thick shell and in a turkey bag like Thanksgiving. 

Just swing by Walmart or Dollar Tree and grab these things, GoCheepNow.com

A pack of turkey bags
Lemon half to spear on the rostrum above the eyes Rockweed to add flavor or 1/4 cup of water. Cook at the highest setting of the microwave, this will vary.

When Lobster is Bright red Let’s eat. Just test it you will know.  A common mistake is adding to the cooking time just because you are cooking more than 1-2 lobsters in the pot.

 

Ok, Where to Stay!  As you can see on the map Duck Key is situated right in the middle of all the action, Also being more populated some of the best deals on accommodations in The Florida Keys.  Check Out These Links!

TRIPADVISOR

 BOOKING.COM

HOTELS.COM

 

SEA SQUAD CHARTERS FOR SNORKELING LOBSTER HUNT TRIPS

CAPTAIN KEVIN ‘S LOBSTER HUNTS

ALL DEEP SEA AND WATERSPORT CHARTERS IN THE KEYS

DAY TRIPS AND TOURS IN THE KEYS

THINGS TO DO ON THE KEYS WHEN NOT LOBSTER HUNTING

 

 

GET THE BEST DEALS ON FLIGHTS!

We highly encourage landing in Miami and driving the Florida Keys

-It’s an Experience everyone should Experience!

AIRFAIRWATCHDOG


Airfarewatchdog

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIS WILL BE POSSIBLY THE MOST MEMORIAL TRIP YOU WILL EVER TAKE!

Enjoy, Chris

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