One of the most highly anticipated seasons of the year for boaters and divers kicks off on July 29th-July 30th this year. Beginning at 12:01 am on Wednesday and ending at 12:00 midnight on Thursday, the coastal areas of Florida will become flooded with lobster hunting enthusiasts trying to get their hands on the elusive Florida Spiny Lobster. These highly sought after lobster are rich and sweet in taste, with a soft texture. This offers the opportunity for recreational fisherman to catch the biggest tails before commercial fishermen go out and set their traps.
There are two Florida lobster seasons; the two-day mini season and the eight-month regular season. The regular eight-month lobster season is always August 6th through March 31st. The heaviest lobster concentrations in Florida are found in the three following areas: Florida Keys (Monroe Country), Gold Coast, and East Coast.
Divers from all over the U.S. travel down to the region to take part in this two-day lobster hunt. Although it’s an exciting event, it’s important to remember that these dives require much preparation and attention.
Here are a few important regulations and safety tips to keep in mind for a better experience:
1. An underwater hunt strains your body much more than a typical recreational dive. Use the preseason time to refresh your skills and improve your fitness.
2. A license is required. Recreational harvesters are required to possess a valid Florida Saltwater Fishing License with a current crawfish permit.
3. There is a bag limit. Only six (6) per recreational harvester per day.
4. A Dive Flag is necessary. You must display a dive flag that is easily visible to other boaters. Make sure you slow down to idle speed within 100 yards of a dive flag.
5. Lobster tails are only to be separated on land. When the tail is separated from the body, it must be greater than 5 1/2 inches.
6. Night diving during the mini season is prohibited.
7. Dive with a buddy. This makes for a safer experience and also makes it easier for hunting.
8. All lobster carapace must be greater than three (3) inches to be harvested or possessed. All undersized lobsters must be released unharmed.
9. Coral is protected. Do not touch, stand on, or otherwise harm any coral.
10. No egg bearing lobster, regardless of species, can be harvested. To make sure, you can turn her over and check underside the tail for orange, red, brown, or yellow eggs.