Florida lobster season, which opened in August, runs through March 31 of 2014.
Reports from the July mini-season divers were good, with most knowledgeable lobster ticklers getting a limit of those delicious crustaceans in the Keys and along the southeast coast. Warm, clear and calm conditions are forecast for the rest of this week.
Remember, fall is one of the best times of the year to find big bugs and to find them shallow. For reasons not well understood, spiny lobsters tend to “walk” between fall storm events, forming long, marching lines in water as shallow as 10 feet. The storms also give the bugs a break from the pressure. I like to dive the first day you have enough visibility after wind and waves settle down.
If you dive outside of Monroe County and Biscayne National Park this sport season you can keep twice as many lobsters (12) each day as you can in the Keys. Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami all offer good bug hunting. And unlike in the Keys, where night diving for lobsters is illegal, you can hunt after sundown along Florida’s mainland.
You will also find bigger bugs from Stuart north to the reefs off Jacksonville Beach. The visibility isn’t as good, but there’s nowhere near the pressure and the bugs are big. Lobster hunting is generally good only off northeast Florida early in the season, before water temperatures begin dropping.
A legal spiny lobster must have a carapace at least 3 inches long, and the lobster must be measured in the water. You must have a measuring device in your possession at all times.
You may keep six lobsters per person per day in Monroe County (the Florida Keys) and Biscayne National Park, and 12 per person per day in the rest of Florida. Happy hunting!
And feel free to invite me to dinner.