Grab your tickle stick: Florida’s two-day lobster mini-season officially gets underway on Wednesday.
The recreational two-day lobster mini-season starts on July 27 at 12:01 a.m. and ends at midnight the following day. The regular season begins on Aug. 6 every year and runs through March 31.
While Florida has three varieties of lobster, state wildlife officials say that most fishermen prefer the Florida spiny lobster, also known as the Caribbean spiny lobster.
The spiny lobster inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Normally, the best time to catch a Florida spiny lobster is at night since lobsters stay in their dens during daylight hours to avoid predators and only come out after dark to look for food.
According to state law, during the two-day sport lobster season, divers and snorkelers can take up to six lobsters per person day in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, 12 per person per day for the rest of Florida.
Learn more about bag limits, size limits, where to harvest, and other regulations at MyFWC.com. If you plan to lobster in the Keys, another great resource is the Monroe County Tourist Development Council website KeysLobsterSeason.com.
Don’t forget to get your license and spiny lobster permit at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.
There are a number of regulations for lobster harvesting.
One is if the carapace or shell of the lobster is not 3 inches or more you can’t take them. And keep your eyes open for diver’s flags.
“This is the most important symbol everybody’s going to see when they’re out for mini-season. This means there are divers in the water actively harvesting,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesman Tyson Matthews.
When lobstering in open water, divers should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device if near an inlet or navigation channel
Don’t forget to use care around corals and other marine life. The FWC launched the Florida Coral Crew to engage sportsmen and women in the effort to combat Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.
- Divers must possess a measuring device, and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured.
- Taking egg-bearing females is prohibited.
- The spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush the shell of the lobster may not be used.
- Night diving is not allowed in Monroe County. Additionally, there is no lobster hunting in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and in the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary during both the 2-day sport season and regular season.
- You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit.
- Safety equipment such as flares, life jackets, and fire extinguishers are required to be on board the vessel.
- Dive flags must measure at least 20 x 24 inches and be mounted on the highest point of a boat or at least 12 x 12 inches if the flag is in the water.
Click here for more lobster mini-season rules and regulations from the FWC.