Lobster Mini Season is Here
Florida Spiny Lobster
Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys
2011 Lobster mini season is upon us. It starts Wednesday July 27th at 12:01am and ends Thursday July 28th at midnight. It’s that two day period each year where diver enthusiasts and lobster eating lovers head south before the regular spiny lobster season opens and commercial fishermen try to empty the ocean of them.
Its the time when you may suit up with scuba tanks if certified, free dive or use snorkel equipment to try your hand at catching the tasty crustaceans. Although pretty elusive once you find them and pack down your technique its a worth while hobby with a tasty treat at the end. Florida spiny lobsters regular season opens August 6th through March 31, 2011 every year.
There are maximum limits so make sure to adhere to these. The lobster mini season has a bag limit of 6 lobster per person per day or 24 per boat for Monroe County and Biscayne National Park. The rest of Florida’s limit is 12 lobster per person per day. Some rules need also to be observed to ensure a safe and hardship free sport season.
Diving or snorkeling at night in the Keys (Monroe County) is not allowed during this sport season. Bully Netting and Hoop netting is. Many boats head out in the evening to secure their spots therefore ensuring themselves first pickings at first light.
You can dive for the tasty lobster anywhere in the Keys except for closed areas and marine areas. Any State or National parks are off limits and so are preservation areas, research areas and ecological reserves. These are generally marked by yellow boundary buoys. For specific closed areas check online www.floridakeys.noaa.gov
Mini Lobster Season Essentials
Follow the Rules
Before heading out make sure you purchase your special lobster/crawfish stamp which allows you to catch six lobster per person per day with a limit of twelve per person for the two days. You may not remove more than six lobster per person on the first day.
Make sure you each have the required lobster measuring gauge while harvesting in the water. All divers are required to carry a measuring device.
Other useful tools are gloves, a net and tickle stick.
Lobster must measure more than three inches from the front of the carapace to the start of the tail. They must be measured in the water and released if short. You must also keep them whole until landing, that means no wrung tails.
If by chance you come across egg bearing lobster they must be released alive. You can easily tell if they are egg bearing as the eggs appear as a spongy mass of orange, yellow, or red hues on the underside of a lobster tail.
Divers and snorkelers are required to have a diver down flag displayed when divers are in the water.
They are also required to have a saltwater fishing license with a lobster stamp on it. Fishing licenses may be purchased at dive, bait and sporting good shops as well as online www.myfwc.com at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Lobster Measuring Tool
Measuring Lobster Correctly
Measure the lobster while still in the water by placing the gauge starting at the carapace. Carapace must be greater than 3 inches. If undersized release unharmed. If correct size place live in your bag. Lobsters must remain whole while out in the water. They should only be wrung on land, otherwise the tail needs to be greater than 5 ½ inches.
As harmless as it seems to not follow the rules and regulations beware that this is an unforgiving county with zero tolerance for violators. Fines are stiff for taking lobster out of season, for over the limit harvesting and for the taking of short lobster. A trip to the county jail also a real possibility for these violations. Have fun but be smart and cover your tails. Happy Harvesting!
- 5 pounds cooked lobster meat, shredded
- 3 yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 8 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, mix together the lobster meat, yellow or red peppers, celery, onion, mayonnaise and pepper until evenly combined. Chill before serving. Squeeze some lemon juice and enjoy!