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The Spiny Lobster Season.

The Florida Keys lobster season is much awaited here since lobster is such a favored and popular seafood item. Then a multitude of divers show up at the scene to catch the precious crustacean.

The Caribbean spiny lobster, bugs or the  Florida spiny lobster lives and reproduce to large quantities on the coral reefs and mangroves of the Florida Keys and the Florida Bay shallow rocky coastal waters.

Spiny lobster under a rock on the sea floor.

Their bodies are covered by spines, reason why called "spiny lobster", and locals call them "bugs", they are of a color brown, olive green or mahogany with yellow spots on the carapace. Contrary to the other species of lobsters they have no claws and the pair of frontal antennae are longer than their bodies.

The lobster season in Florida.

The regular Florida commercial lobster season runs from the 6 of August until the 31 of March,  but is a special open sport mini season during the last consecutive Wednesdays and Thursdays of July, just before the regular season begins on August, when divers can catch lobsters with gloved hands by teasing them out of their holes in the rock or reefs with a stick. *It' s not permitted to spear the lobster.

Man diving and catching two lobsters during the lobster season.

Hand catching lobster during the mini season.

Caution: Be careful when hand catching lobsters from holes, there are other living organisms and critters living here, like the fire coral, lionfish, stingrays and moray eels.
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Boats of divers anchored next to the bridge doring the florida keys lobster season.

Large groups of divers come to the Florida Keys during the lobster season.

Divers snorkeling in the water looking for lobsters.

While diving for lobster take the same safety measures as in normal dives.

Use diver-down flags and floats to warn boaters that the area it's being used by divers.

Lobster catching methods.

To catch a lobster is tricky sometimes due to their natural behavior. Usually the lobster travels forward by walking slowly but when is scared it will flex the tail and spring backwards at high speed getting away from danger.

A good method to use for catching lobster once you have located one under a rock or a hole it's to use the stick to tab the lobsters tail, antennae or the sides gently causing the lobster to move forward making possible its capture. If the lobster does not move forward you can try forcing the lobster gently out with the stick. Make sure not to do jerky  movements  that would scare the lobster.

Using a net is another option that works well. As the lobster moves forward after being tickled on the tail with the stick just please the net behind the lobster and tap its forehead and as the lobster spring back into the net gets caught, or simply trap the lobster between the net and the bottom of the ocean floor.

The other popular method for catching the spiny lobster is using the snare. The snare is a device comprised of a hallow metal rod with a rope that forms a noose at one end.

Get the nose around the lobster far enough (all the way around the lobster legs) and then tighten the nose by pulling the rope.

Either method requires some practice before you'll become a "champ lobster trapper".

The other popular method for catching the spiny lobster is using the snare. The snare is a device comprised of a hallow metal rod with a rope that forms a noose at one end.

Get the nose around the lobster far enough (all the way around the lobster legs) and then tighten the nose by pulling the rope.

Either method requires some practice before you'll become a "champ lobster trapper".

Steps to prepare for lobster season.

  1. Dig into the laws on the Florida Keys lobster season regulations.
  2. Get your Florida saltwater fishing license, together with the craw-fish stamp.
  3. Purchase a lobster snare, tickle stick, lobster bag (the best bags are with the round plastic top) diving or snorkeling gear, gloves and measuring tool.
  4. Come to the Florida Keys during the lobster season and dive for the lobster!
Man diving and using snare to catch lobster.

The snare can be use for tickling, handling or trapping the lobster in the noose at the end.

The other methods for catching lobster.

Big spiny lobster caught in a lobster trap on the bottom of the ocean.

The commercial fishing method uses lobster traps baited with dead fish.

*Do not try to get the lobsters out of any trap if you find any traps around with lobsters inside while diving, they  belong to some fisherman and could be trouble, keep hands off their prize!

*Spear fishing is not permitted in Florida, but is done in the Bahamas and other areas of the Caribbean.

Finding lobsters.

Spiny lobster hiding under the corals.

Lobsters hide under the coral, rocks, cavities on the sea floor and on waters no more that 15' deep.

The lobster likes to hide under the coral and rocks so if not looking carefully you might think that is nothing there and leave the spot, but a careful inspection would reveal the hiding lobsters, often you would see the lobster’s antennas but sometimes don't. Use a flash light to search into the cavities.

Check into small patch reefs encircled by turtle grass, caves and wrecks, their favorite place to hunt. Also look where swarms of fish are present, the lobster some times is where fish is abundant. Shallow waters not more that 10'- 15' deep.

Some areas of shallow water next and around to the Florida Keys bridges are great places to fish for lobster but to many groups of hunters go to these more well known areas, then you might need to go out to find good spots.

*Be aware of the strong currents around he bridges and channels for safety.

Tip.-Some good spots for lobstering here are in the Meddle Florida Keys-west of the Seven Mile Bridge-Gulf Bay side-Duck Key-Long Key-Conch Key and Lower Matecumbe but don't expect to find a secret spot out of a deserted island, chances are that you'll run into other groups of enthusiastic lobster hunters.

*Check for local zoning regulations and get information from local dive shops and marinas about where these locations are.

The legal size and how to measure a lobster.

We have to make sure that the lobster is of legal size " keeper bug" before pulling it out of the water. For this reason we have to use the gauge or lobster measuring tool. If a lobster is too small or producing eggs you should release it into the water.

The lobster have to be measure immediately after caught before being taken out of the water.

There are places where you can learn how to measure lobster during the Florida Keys lobster season once you are here.

The lobster should measure (3 inches minimum from the edge between the horns on its head to the rear edge of the carapace)

The lobster have to be measure immediately after caught before being taken out of the water. There are places where you can learn how to measure lobster during the Florida Keys lobster season once you are here.

The lobster should measure (3 inches minimum from the edge between the horns on its head to the rear edge of the carapace)

It will probably take a few try outs and practice before you'll become a proficient lobster hunter but with time it will get better

There is a legal limit on the amount of lobsters caught per person depending on where you are hunting (limit of 6 to 12 lobsters per person on one day) in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park is 6 lobsters per day while anywhere else in Florida are 6 per day throughout the regular season and 12 during the mini season. 

Some other rules and prohibitions apply when it comes to catching lobsters in the Florida Keys. In some areas lobstering it's prohibited, the Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas, Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs), Cardsound Lobster Sanctuary, Biscayne Bay and on many of the coral reefs (patch reef) areas.

Florida Keys lobster season regulations from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Search for Florida recreational lobster season regulations"

Preparing and cooking lobsters.

First you have to clean the lobster, just holding the tail with one hand and the body with the other and twisting will separate the body from the tail. Wash the tail with water to clean well.

Next remove the waste track in a similar way that when de-veining shrimp. And rinse the tail with water once more.

Storing the tails in the refrigerator will keep the tails fresh for two days but if you want to keep them longer and fresh you have to wrap them on film and freeze them immediately after the cleaning.

There are different methods for cooking lobster (steaming, broiling, beaked, grilling,  or BBQ)

Next remove the waste track in a similar way that when de-veining shrimp. And rinse the tail with water once more.

Storing the tails in the refrigerator will keep the tails fresh for two days but if you want to keep them longer and fresh you have to wrap them on film and freeze them immediately after the cleaning.

There are different methods for cooking lobster (steaming, broiling, beaked, grilling,  or BBQ)

My advice is to get a good recipe book and try different methods until you find the one of your preference.

Cooked lobster tails on a dish served with vegetables.

Grilled lobster tails.

This is a basic and easy  method to prepare the lobster tails."Grilled"

The ingredients:

2 to 3 / 8 oz. to 10 oz. lobster tails.

4 table spoons of butter.

1 lemon.

1 garlic clove.

salt & pepper.

*increase the amount of ingredients if more than 3 lobster tails.

 If the tails had been frozen place them in a plastic bag and submerge in warm water.

Prepare the marinate sauce by first melting the butter in a dish or pan, mince the garlic and added to the butter along with one table spoon of lemon juice and stir well.

Cut the tails in a half, length wise. *first you lay the tail on a cutting board with the underside of the lobster tail side up ( shell side down)  with a large sharp knife cut pressing down until both halts are separated. *You can use scissors to finish cutting the shell. Baste the flesh side of the tail with with the marinate sauce. *Use a brush.

Preparation of the grill.

* Clean and oil the grill bars to prevent sticking.

* If using charcoal spread the coils to get an even heat.

* If using a gas grill turn to medium-high.

Before grilling the tails baste them once again  with the sauce, add some crumbs of salt and pepper, place the tails fleshy side down on the grill 4-5 minutes, turn them shell side down and baste them with the marinate sauce during the next 4-6 minutes until the meat is firm.

Have a great Florida Keys lobster season meal!






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