Ever wondered how the delicious lobster tail with butter you had for dinner the other night got from the ocean to your plate? Or perhaps you have wanted to try your own hand at fishing for lobsters? Either way, here are some fun facts you can take with you the next time you visit Florida and the Fort Lauderdale area for vacation.
Many requirements exist for lobster fishing. Lobster season this year in Florida is from August 6 through March 31. A mini season is held the last Wednesday and Thursday in July. A limit is in place for how many lobsters you can keep.
In the Florida Keys and Biscayne National Park the limit is six lobsters per person per day for both seasons. In other places in Florida, you can also keep up to six lobsters per day unless it is during mini season. During the mini season, you can keep up to twelve!
A lobster must be at least three inches in length from the hard part of the forward edge between the horns to the rear edge of the carapace (hard shell covering). This ensures no babies lobsters are taken from the ocean. You will also need a saltwater fishing license and crawfish permit when you go lobstering.
Before heading into the water, learn the difference between the male and female lobster. You have found a male if you turn the lobster over and see two hard “legs” angled across its body. Lobsters are not as common as they were years ago. It is now illegal to take egg-bearing females and destroy a generation of future lobsters. So if you find eggs with the lobster, you must not take it.
Gear you will need for hunting lobsters include snorkeling or scuba gear, tickle sticks, lobster nets, lobster gloves, and lobster bags. Tickle sticks, as humorous as they may sound, are used just like you would think. You will literally tickle and poke the lobster to move into your net. Before you dive, be sure to mark the tickle stick with the legal length of the lobster for easy comparison.
You should also know where lobsters are likely to be hiding out. Look for lobsters to be sticking out from beneath a ledge or rock. Most likely when you see one lobster, there are more around; they tend to stay in groups.
As you approach a lobster, be sure to move very slowly; sudden movement will frighten them away. Hold your tickle stick in one hand and your net in your other hand. Plan where you want to place your net, and then put it down and keep it still. Try to make the lobster think the net is just part of a coral reef.
Now you are ready for your tickle stick! Tap the lobster’s tail with your stick forcefully. Try to drive the lobster into your net by tickling it with your stick. Lobsters can move backwards, so be ready for it to move in either direction.
Try to keep the lobster in the net by flipping the net down over the lobster and holding the netting down with your stick. Then swim up towards the surface of the water with it still in the net until you reach either the beach or your sailboat rental or other boat rental. Don’t take the lobster out until you have reached dry ground.
So the next time you are in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and are out on the water in your paddle board rental enjoying your vacation remember what you’ve learned about lobster fishing. You may even want to try it sometime. Just remember your license and proper gear, especially your tickle stick!