Catching spiny lobsters is a long-standing tradition in the beautiful crystal clear blue waters of South Florida. These crustaceans are prized for their high-quality tail meat. Unlike their cousins, the American lobster that inhabit the northern Atlantic, spiny lobsters have no claws. These lobsters inhabit coral reefs, coral heads, or burrows where they can hide from predators during the day. At night, they forage the seafloor for food.
Unlike fishing, minimal gear is needed to catch spiny lobster. All you need is snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins), a “tickle” stick, a net, gloves, and a measuring device.
To catch spiny lobsters, we find suitable bottom structure in clear water at depths comfortable to reach using snorkel gear. To locate the lobsters we dive to the bottom to examine the holes and other crevices under the reef.
Spiny lobsters have long antennae which can often be seen poking out from the holes. One a lobster is located, divers insert the tickle stick behind the lobster, bumping them from behind, which causes them to briefly come out of the hole. As soon as possible, place the net behind the lobster to catch it in the net, once it takes off backwards in an attempt to flee.
Once trapped, while still in the water, you must use your measuring device to make sure that the back carapace of the lobster is at least 3 inches long and that the lobster is not carrying eggs on the bottom side of the tail.
In Florida, the spiny lobster season begins the last week of July during what is often called the mini-season, July 27-28 in 2022. This two-day season serves as the annual kick-off to the recreational harvest, prior to the commercial trapping and regular seasons starting. The regular recreational season runs from August 6, 2022, through March 31, 2023.
There are numerous state and federal restrictions on where spiny lobster can be harvested, with many protected areas throughout south Florida. To increase your odds of having a successful harvest in legal areas, we recommend going with a guide familiar with the area. Each summer, Capt. Jason heads to Key West to take clients fishing and lobstering.
Lobstering is an incredibly fun and rewarding activity for people of all ages, with the prize being some of the best food you can get from the sea. Schedule your lobstering trip with Capt Jason for this upcoming season soon, as the trips are sure to book up well in advance.