When most folks think of spiny lobster, they picture the Florida Keys and the bug-hunting hotspots of Islamorada, Marathon and Big Pine Key. But while this stretch of coastline is no doubt the most famous lobster diving spot in the world, you can also catch these tasty crustaceans off Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and other Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities as well.
Lobster larvae ride the Gulf Stream and drop off along the deepwater reefs off Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. There are no crowds; you might find a reef all to yourself. The diving is a bit more challenging, but the rewards are well worth the effort. An added plus, you can dive at night.
Gulf of Mexico
One of the best-kept secrets of the state’s SCUBA scene is the Gulf of Mexico and the big, fat, lumbering lobsters that make it their home. The lobsters here are not as plentiful as they are in the Florida Keys, but they tend to grow much larger. This is where you’ll find some real monsters. To catch your share, hop aboard a dive boat out of Clearwater, Sarasota or Fort Myers.
Tips from a Pro
Lobster hunting is not like picking daisies. With one flip of the tail, these critters can take off in a flash. Successful lobster hunters use brain not brawn. The trick – use a “tickle” stick to coax the lobster into a net. Remember they swim backwards, so get the net behind them and approach slowly.
And if lobstering isn’t your bag, try snorkeling for scallops off Steinhatchee in July and stone crabs around Tampa Bay in October. Harvesting regulations vary around the state. For more information, including license requirements and regulations, go to www.MyFWC.com.