While anglers can catch spiny lobster with hoop nets or on scuba, the most challenging and therefore rewarding way is to freedive for them. Here are a few tips to get you started.
What you’ll need
- Mask and snorkel
- Thick, warm wetsuit
- Weight belt
- Gardening gloves
- Swim fins
- Dive bag
- Lobster gauge to measure your catch
- Fishing license and lobster report card
Where to go
Lobsters don’t like sandy bottoms; they prefer rock structure and reef. You could be the best freediver in the world, but if you’re in the wrong spot, you’re going to surface empty-handed every time.
Ask around … just don’t ask me where my spot is!
How to do itWhile floating on the surface, look for slight overhangs, caves and cracks in the reef. Once you’ve spotted a spot where you think there may be some bugs, relax and breathe deep. Upon descent, aim straight down to get to the bottom quickly and without wasting oxygen.
Once you’ve spotted your prey, quickly figure out the best angle for attack. Grabbing them by the antennae doesn’t work, as they’ll just break off. You need to grab it by the carapace (head) and hold tight as it flips its tail in an attempt to free itself and not become dinner. Also, a lot of times you’ll see a cluster of lobsters; take a second to find the biggest and go after that one.
Be patient and don’t stress when you lose a few; the act of grabbing a lobster is the toughest part and takes a lot of practice.
Be careful of …
- Getting your arm stuck in a cave. No lobster is worth losing your life over!
- Taking small lobster — the carapace must measure at least 3.25 inches to be legal, and the limit is seven lobsters per person. Fines are steep; don’t be a poacher! For a complete list of rules and regulations, go to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
- Rip currents, rogue waves, banging your head on rocks, and other dangers associated with the ocean. Always dive with a buddy!
- Diving at night. This can be very rewarding, but take even more precaution than you would during the daytime.
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