Florida Keys Spiny Lobstering
Well the regular season for Florida Spiny Lobster or ‘bugs’ opened on August 6th. The season goes from August 6th through March 31st in the Keys. There are a few regulations for recreational harvest of Spiny Lobster and they can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife website. You can view the 2013 brochure here for the regulations and how to measure a lobster.
Lobster Mini-Season (Sport Season)
The Lobster Mini-Season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July. The regulations state that each person harvesting lobster is allowed 6 Spiny Lobsters per day of both the sport mini-season and the regular season.
You must be in possession of a measuring device and use it to be certain the carapace of the lobster is at least 3″ from the center of the eyes to the start of the tail section.
Lobstering during mini-season begins at midnight on the first day. During the night-time hours the lobsters may only be taken by “bully netting” and no divers are allowed in the water until sunrise. Bully Netting is done with a large net on a long pole and with a light that can be submerged or a powerful hand-held light if you are in a pinch. The lobster travel during the night and a reflection from their eyes can be seen to pinpoint their position. The bully net is placed on top of the lobster and as he swims up into the net you would invert the net and bring it into the boat.
Personally it’s more fun to go during the daytime and work through the underwater ledges and coral heads in search of the spiny creature. These areas can be found throughout the shallow waters on both the Atlantic and Gulf edges of the Keys. Basically during the mini-season and the beginning of the regular season you will just have to find your spot. It’s sometimes a challenge as there can be nearly 30,000 people throughout the Keys that are visitors here specifically for lobstering.There are several dive boats that will take visitors out specifically for lobstering. The cost for sharing a charter like this may be more expensive than a regular dive trip because of the licensing and extra equipment. Be sure to ask if you need to obtain your own Florida Fishing License with a Lobster Stamp (an extra $2.00 usually) or if the charter company provides the license.
For any questions regarding the rules and regulations for lobstering in the Florida Keys please contact Florida Fish and Wildlife in Monroe County at (305) 289-2805.