It’s mid-July and folks down in south Florida have one thing on their mind: lobster season! That’s right, late July kicks off the lobster season and what better way to beat the Florida heat than to kick around in the water and hunt lobsters. Not only is it a fun and unique pastime, but who doesn’t like fresh lobster?! Florida’s spiny lobsters are unlike their northern counterparts in that they don’t have large front claws to contend with and they’re in shallow, warm tropical water. Sounds like a great way to spend a weekend! But before you get lobster fever, it’s important to be prepared. Knowing things like season dates and rules and regulations can make your lobster hunt enjoyable legal. Let’s get ready to lobster!
First and foremost it’s important to plan your lobster trip during the proper season dates. Thankfully they’re the same every year so that won’t be too difficult. However, there are technically two seasons. A mini-season which is only for two days that always lands on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July. For 2017, those dates happen to be July 26th and 27th beginning at 12:01am on Wednesday and ending at midnight on Thursday. The regular season opens up every year on August 6th and runs until March 31st, giving you ample time to go get your share of the bounty.
So now that you have your dates all in line, there are some regulations that you need to be up on when it comes time to harvest your lobsters. Things like having the correct size lobster, the correct number of lobsters and the correct licensing are all very important. First off, a recreational saltwater fishing license is needed along with a lobster permit before heading out to the lobster grounds. There are also size limits. Before placing a lobster into your bag, you must first make sure it is within the legal size requirements. The carapace of the lobster must be greater than three inches and must be measured in the water and before taking possession. A measuring device must accompany you at all times while hunting lobsters. There are also bag limits which must be abided by. Bag limits can differ depending on where you are and which season you’re in. During the mini season and In Monroe County and Biscayne National Park the bag limit is 6 lobsters per day and 12 per day for everywhere else in Florida. That’s just for the mini season. For the regular season, it drops to 6 lobsters per day.
But that’s not all! There are other regulations that you should know. Lobsters must be landed in whole condition and cannot be harvested using tools that may puncture, penetrate or crush the shell. It is also illegal to harvest female lobsters that are carrying eggs. If this seems like a lot to know and remember, then consider hiring a guide for your lobster hunting adventure. A reputable guide will have all the rules and regulations memorized and can assist you in making sure that everything is done legally and ethically.