Monday, July 16, 2018
Outdoors

The dos and don'ts of enjoying lobster season

The regular season for lobster in Florida starts Saturday and runs through March 31. It's time to dust off your equipment and if you're new to the sport, make a shopping list.

The great thing about catching "bug fever" is you really don't need a lot of expensive equipment. The beginner can get started with a mask, snorkel, tickle stick, gloves and lobster net. Throw in a sense of adventure and you're ready to make some dinner plans.

One of the most important things — for beginners or experts — is location and knowing how to find the sometimes elusive bugs.

The Florida spiny lobster is nocturnal, making them easier to catch. Popular lobster hangouts include ledges, patch reefs, holes, big coral heads and just about any type of structure where a lobster can hide. A lot of seasoned pros have their secret spots, and many of those gems can be found in shallow water. (I have limited-out of lobster in 3 feet of water in Key West.)

Lobsters' antennae tend to give away hiding spots. They use these extremely sensitive appendages to detect danger and, if touched, will then burrow deeper out of sight. Once you locate a set of antennae, place your tickle stick behind the lobster to gently urge it out and slowly walk it into your net. Once in your net, grab the excess material to quickly close the net or the lobster will do the "boot scoot boogie" and be gone.

A few important things to know in order to bring home lobsters and, most importantly, everyone safely back to the dock. Have your "diver down" flag up at all times when someone is in the water. Whether snorkeling or diving, swim and surface close to the boat. Don't forget your measurement gauge — in fact, attach it to your tickle stick — since lobsters must be measured in the water.

A lobster's carapace has to be larger than 3 inches, which means the crustacean is at least 2 or 3 years old and has reproduced at least one season. To measure a lobster, place the end of the gauge between the horns and other at the end of the carapace. If it is under 3 inches, release and keep looking.

The limits are six per person, per day during regular season. There are a few exceptions on limits within Monroe County and Biscayne National Park and places that do not allow harvesting during certain times. Check the FWC regulations before going out.

Remember, you must have a lobster stamp on your saltwater fishing licenses and cannot harvest them off any man-made structures.

Once caught, if you don't have a live well, throw the lobsters on ice in the cooler. Cleaning is easy. Wrap both hands around the lobster and twist in the opposite direction to separate the carapace from the tail. Remove the waste track from the tail — I like to use one of the antennae to accomplish this goal.

Now here comes the easy part. Fire up the grill, grab a cold beverage and sit back and admire the lovely lobster tails you and your family will be having for dinner.

Misty Wells is a Clearwater native and host of the "Let's Take It Outside" radio and TV show. Find out more about her at mistywells.com.

Comments

Captainís Corner: Fishing docks and bridges at night is good way to beat summertime heat

The summertime heat and humidity are in full swing. Get out early to avoid the heat and the afternoon thunderstorms. Water temperatures are anywhere from 88 to 93 degrees. With water temperatures that high, youíll be able to spend only the first few ...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/15/18

Captainís Corner: Donít forget about the ponds for fishing

Saltwater gets all of our attention, but when driving to and from work or visiting a friend, keep an eye out for a pond that looks fishy. There are many productive ponds that have bass and panfish, some even have snook and baby tarpon, both of which ...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/14/18

Captainís Corner: Welcome to summertime kingfish season

We now have a summertime kingfish season. In the past weíve basically given up on kingfish at the end of May because the feeling was they had migrated to the northern gulf to spawn, not returning until mid-October. Weíve targeted kingfish this year i...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18

Captainís Corner: Spanish mackerel push back into bay

Large Spanish mackerel have pushed into the bay as of the most recent full moon. Many of these pelagics are in the 6-pound range, and recent catches of 8-pound mackerel have not been uncommon. A medium action rod with a 4000 series reel spooled with ...
Published: 07/11/18

Captainís Corner: Pinellas south beaches strong for snook

Snook fishing along the south beaches of Pinellas County has been amazing. Large schools are hanging in the swash channels formed by wave motion right off the beach. The water clarity changes daily, depending on the wind direction. If the wind is out...
Published: 07/08/18
Updated: 07/13/18

Captainís Corner: Good tarpon action should last through August

For those who have not had their fill of tarpon fishing, thereís still plenty of it. A good flow of silverkings continues along our gulf beaches and in the bays and backwaters. Weíll be tugging on íem through next month. We battled tarpon last week j...
Published: 07/07/18
Updated: 07/08/18
Captainís Corner: Summer weather brings great bay fishing

Captainís Corner: Summer weather brings great bay fishing

We are right in the middle of the summer, which makes for some hot weather and rainy afternoons. With summer weather patterns come some great bay fishing. Sharks, cobia, snapper and grouper are plentiful inside Tampa Bay. Shark fishing is also a grea...
Published: 07/06/18
Updated: 07/09/18

Captainís Corner: Nowís the time for beach tarpon fishing

Beach tarpon fishing has been good. Tarpon have been showing up early in the morning and during the tide change occurring midmorning to early afternoon. Live pinfish fished 4-5 feet under a float has been the ticket. Most of the fish are heading nort...
Published: 07/06/18

Captainís Corner: For July fishing success, avoid the sun

This is the dead stretch of summer. Success in fishing has everything to do with the "when." A month ago it was at sunrise. With water temperatures at 90, you should think about being out on the water several hours before sunrise. Of late, the fishin...
Published: 07/05/18
Updated: 07/07/18

Captainís Corner: Get you American red snapper now since season nears its end

American red snapper and gag grouper remain the most searched fish for offshore and spearfishermen. The ARS season closes at midnight July 19, so if you want to get these tasty fish, plan your trip soon. When the season opened a few weeks ago, ARS we...
Published: 07/05/18