Bottom temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico have reached the upper 50s. There are still grouper and hogfish in the shallow depths, and the lobsters aren't moving too fast. Even divers who are crustacean-grabbing challenged can nab these slow moving lobsters.
Florida spiny lobsters are scarce these days, but slipper lobsters can be found in crevices in the gulf.
For the spiny lobsters, look for deep undercut ledges. The more productive ledges are the ones that have holes on top. The hole needs to be big enough to let the lobster escape, and it is usually better when sunlight can be seen coming through the hole. The only problem with the spiny is that its population has decreased the last four to six years. The incredible recovery and appetite of the goliath grouper has seriously thinned out the spiny lobster population.
The slipper lobster is harder for the goliaths to capture. The slipper likes to hold up in small, tight ledges. It has strong legs and is hard for the goliaths to suck into their mouths.
If you're looking for slippers, look in areas where the ledges taper down toward the sea floor. Or look in contained pockets in the hard-bottom ledges, any place a goliath grouper would have a hard time extricating them. When you locate one of these tight sanctuaries, you might find a lobster honey hole.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 344-3483.