July 9, 2019
If you’re like us, you can’t wait for this year’s Lobster Mini Season! Always the last Wednesday and Thursday of July (and always a good time) the Lobster Mini Season brings travelers near and far to South Florida for two days of lobstering. The Lobster Mini Season is a chance for recreational sport fishermen and women to get to the lobsters before the commercial guys do. There are FIVE STEPS to consider as you prepare for this year’s season.
Here’s your guide for how to get ready for the 2019 Lobster Mini Season.
This year’s Lobster Mini Season is on Wednesday, July 24 and Thursday, July 25. More specifically, it begins at 12:01am on Wednesday, and ends 48 hours later at 11:59pm on Thursday. Recreational enthusiasts enjoy this preview of the season before commercial groups set traps on August 1. This year’s regular season for Lobsters runs August 6, 2019 until March 31, 2020.
The Florida Keys’ reefs are a hot spot of activity during the Lobster Mini Season. Monroe County (which includes the Southwest tip of Florida and all the Keys) is flurry of diving activity with people looking to harvest their Lobster bag limit. Biscayne National Park (located off the Southeast coast of Florida, just south of Miami) is also a great place to harvest Lobsters.
It’s also important to keep in mind prohibited areas to harvest Lobster: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, no-take areas in the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) patrols these areas heavily during the mini season, so it’s best to steer clear.
Travelling to South Florida is always an adventure. Driving down 95-S gets you to Miami and numerous coastal cities. If you’re heading to the Keys, US 1 (or Overseas Highway) is your route. It takes 4 hours from Miami to Key West, but there’s plenty of great islands along the way. If you haven’t yet booked your travel arrangements (flights, rooms, Lobster charter) definitely get this taken care of as soon as possible. A lot of people head to the Keys, so we recommend trying out the South Florida Reefs for your Lobster dive.
Because the use of traps is prohibited, you’ll be diving for Lobsters among the reefs. The Florida lobster (or Caribbean spiny lobster) doesn’t have the large claws like its cousin from Maine. Their main defense is speed, and they use their tails to flee from danger. During the day Lobsters prefer reefs and rocks to hide under or holes to hide in; they are usually more active at night when looking for food. And they move around from year-to-year; so last year’s goldmine won’t necessarily yield the same results this year.
Depending on where you are will determine how deep to dive. SCUBA gear will be needed for certain depths, while shallow reefs only require snorkel mask and fins. Usually in South Florida you can get away with just a mask and fins. Be sure not to use any device that will harm the shell or flesh of the Lobster; the use of Lobster Loopers do not harm them in the catch, and bags are okay to keep your harvest while hunting.
You’re almost ready to start your Lobster Hunt! Now it’s time to get everything you’ll need for your day on the water. Of course you’ll need your snorkel or dive gear. Some use a “tickle stick” and/or a Loopster Looper. These are devices that you will use to prod the Lobster out of the hole, and the loop around the body from behind. The Lobster’s antennae will sense movement from the front and will flee from danger, so this approach from behind them is the best technique.
Don’t forget your Florida fishing license with Lobster stamp. This is THE most important piece of gear you need for your trip. You can learn more about FWC fishing licenses here.
While you’re on your Lobster Hunt, know that Florida has several regulations to help with conservation of the species. It’s good practice to know and follow these rules for the health of the population. Everything from bag limits and Lobster size to what and how you harvest your catch is under inspection by the FWC. When everyone plays fair, everyone wins. If you’re not sure about these rules, hire a Professional Guide – they know the rules and will make sure everyone onboard is compliant.
Here are the regulations to keep in mind:
Wherever we go in Florida, we always have a fun time experiencing the Lobster Mini Season. If you haven’t yet had such experience we can’t encourage you enough to try it… just once. When you have one Mini Season under your belt you’ll know why it’s one of the most highly anticipated events for sport fishermen/women. To book your Lobster Guide, or any other fishing trip you may have planned, start with a FishAnywhere search and we’ll get you hooked up.
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