Dreaming of catching lobster?
Thinking about making the trip south for Lobster season?
The regular 8 month lobster season is always August 6 through March 31. With a two day mini recreational season that is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July.
Heading south to the keys is something I do every year for both pleasure and to make an income.
I’m going to go into detail about what you will need to bring (things that are necessary,) things that will help make your life easier.
And Some of the items I bring, as a guide down with me each year.
The list of what you bring will also vary based on if you plan on booking a charter boat for your Lobster outing or if you’re going to be bringing your own boat.
First thing you really need to consider is where you want to stay. There is a 100 miles of US-1 heading southwest towards Key West once you get to Key Largo.
Do you wish to fish near the Everglades, flats fish,reef fish or just strictly come down for Lobster season.
If you’re wanting to just get lobster and be able to fish in Everglades National park. I would recommend finding a rental unit anywhere from Islamorada to Key largo. I would lean more north if this was my objective.
If you’re looking to be able to have the best of all styles of fishing. I’d recommend the middle keys. Islamorada being my island of choice.
If you have the boat for it staying here will enable you to run out to the reef, or the Islamorada humps and the fishing is phenomenal at these locations. Another reason I recommend Islamorada, is because the gulf stream usually in closer to the shore during the summer, than it is in the lower keys.
Be sure to check for boat ramps,marinas, grocery stores are somewhere within short drive away.
I Personally stay in the Lower keys.
My main reason being, that I believe they’re are consistently more lobster down there.
I enjoy the fantastic reef fishing and fishing in the Content keys is off the charts. You’re able to literally catch Lobster in a deep spot on the flat and pretty likely to catch Bonefish,Permit, and sharks in the same area.
I also like to stay in the lower keys because you have easy access to the great night life that everyone enjoys down in Key West on Duval St.
It’s about a 30 min drive or closer depending on where you’re staying.
Once you have locked in your Specific area in the keys where you would like to stay, it time to get down to business.
If you’re considering bringing your boat you need to ask yourself these questions.
Do you regularly maintain your boats trailer annually and semiannually.
NOTHING ruins a trip to the keys like being stranded on alligator alley.
Here is a brief List trailer maintenance list.
- Check over trailer for rust or corrosion that using in saltwater will surely do.
- Look over your axles and leaf springs and ask yourself when if ever have they been replaced. (if you have leaf springs I had to replace mine every other year to feel comfortable making the 8 hour drive from Tampa.)
- Look over your rear seals and check your hubs for grease. I often replace my seals and bearing every six months and repack with new grease.
- Visually inspect your trailer tires check out the D.O.T. Stamped number on the side wall and Replace the tires if they’re more than a few years old even if they have good tread.
- check your to make sure you have a way to strap your boat to your trailer and that you have a safety chain on the boat except.
If you’re planning to bring your boat and you went over the above list I would now start reviewing your Boat.
This should be a check list before you take your boat out at all, but even more important for a long trip like this. You really want to make sure you have everything working. Because if something is going to go wrong. Its going its going to happen down south. (murphy’s law overapplies here)
Here is my boat maintenance/safety list.
- First and foremost make sure that your motor has recently been serviced. There will be no getting your boat in the shop in time for you to use if it does break down due to a non service issue.
- Check all Fluids in the motor, Jack plate, Power-pole(s), and your hydraulic steering
- Check and double check that your Float switch and Bilge pump are working properly. When in the keys and keeping your boat in the water for extended periods this is cheap insurance. Especially with the heavy summer rains that can come and go that time of year in the keys.
- Check all Wiring for corrosion and take a wire brush to all battery connections.
- Be sure that all batteries are holding a good charge and voltage.
- Visually inspect that you have all of your safety gear. PLB(Personal Locator beacon), Life jackets,throw vest, Flares,fire extinguisher, whistle and a compass.
- If you have never ran in the keys it would be really great idea to buy a Navionics chip with satellite overlay for your gps unit. So you can more adequately traverse the treacherous hard bottom and corral heads that make up the Florida keys in its entirety
- Check your prop to make sure the hub is not going out. and for any other damage that might need to be repaired before your keys trip.
Once you have checked and double checked your trailer and boat. There are still some just in case items I place in the bed of my truck to ensure I make it south.
- Spare tire(s) I bring 3 it seems excessive. But I blew two one year on the way down so now I bring three.
- a Spare hub pre packed with grease
- tools,jack,zipties, extra ratchet straps.
- Spare boat oil, bilge pump, hydraulic steering fluid, and fluid for my jackplate and power-poles
- extra battery charger just in case my onboard charger decides to break.
If you bring these items, it will save you time driving all over the keys searching for items you already have in your garage and probably will save you money.
Moving on to what you actually need to bring for lobstering.
Start out by purchasing just what will get you buy for your first trip:
- Dive Fins
- Tickle stick (buy the metal ones that bend) You will thank me when you have to force the big lobster out of it’s hole
- drag (this can be as simple as a rope) I have use two 25′ ropes and cut two pieces of plywood into half moon shapes. these are used to drag people lobstering over the flats and they just hold onto them and let the boat drag them. Until they see a lobster then they just let go and dive down and grab them.
- Goggle defogger(don’t forget this)
- Lobster Motel. you can tie one to a float and let it drag with the people lobstering.
That is really all you need to be able to get your full limit of lobster.
Most of the fun is really getting out there and spending time in the gin clear water and seeing the lobsters antennas sticking out from the rocks,ledges and holes. Once you have found good areas, make sure to mark them on your gps. spots that don’t have lobster today have a high probability of having lobsters the next day. Lobster move nightly. And these spots should produce year after year.
If you have decided to not bring your own boat and you’re going to either go from shore, rent a boat.
All you will need is the List of items listed above for catching Lobster, plus a valid fishing License with lobster stamp.
If you’re looking to book a guide, you will and should start looking now to book for 2017 mini and opening week.
Thousands of people make the annual trip down to partake in the mini and opening weeks. Guides will book up for Lobster trips well in advance. So make your plans well in advance.
If you’re looking for a guide, I do have some days open during the beginning season and some days in August.
Please visit my website at www.fishnfl.com
Call to Book (813) 956-5357
Capt. Jason Dozier
Feel free to ask questions in the comment section.