The Florida Keys is the perfect place to “get your feet wet” on your first experience of
catching your own lobster. Our shallow waters draw tens of thousands of visitors every year in search of the spiny lobster. Lobster season opens for “mini season” on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday at the end of July and the regular season opens August 6th and closes on April 1. Lobstering is a CHALLENGING and fun family activity, where all that is required is some snorkel gear, a good breath hold, a stick and net and a lot of energy! Lobster are found in natural ledges and holes in the Gulf Of Mexico and on hard bottom areas and reefs on the Atlantic side of our islands. Typically you will be freediving bayside in 7-12 feet of water and holding your breath for 20-40 seconds.
A very specific technique is involved to “tickle” a lobster from the safety of its home and maneuver it into a small net…all while holding your breath! As difficult as it may sound, this is a great activity for anybody in good shape with a sense of adventure. It is almost guaranteed you can catch a lobster, but catching a limit of legal sized lobster is not guaranteed in the price of your trip. It will ALWAYS be cheaper to go to Red Lobster if you believe you are “owed” a lobster dinner because you booked this trip. The appeal of this activity is discovering the “survivor” instinct in you and capturing an elusive and tasty creature with your own hands! The best lobstering is in the warmer water months close to the opening and closing of lobster season. The end of October usually is the end of my lobster trips. Weather, water clarity, current, water temperature,cycles and seasonal patterns will have a significant influence on the level of difficulty or ease of activity of lobstering.
Lobster diving is an earned experience. The lobster don’t care about your feelings, don’t care that it is your first time, nor swim into your net because you booked a lobster diving trip. I can teach most everybody to do it, but it is not at all for everybody. My customers range from 13 year old girls to men in their mid 70’s. What IS required: You need a 20-40 second working breath hold and you MUST watch 1 hour of You Tube videos of people catching lobster before your first trip. The amount of customer preparation is always reflected in the catch ratios during the trip. I’ll say it again, your preparation equals your success on these trips. When you do it wrong, you are your worst enemy. I do not enjoy having a trip where I watch my customers struggle. This is your experience. Understand what this is, educate yourself, over-prepare and success will come.
The cost of a 4 hour lobster trip is $525 for up to 4 people. $50/person 5 and person 6. 4 people is ideal, I recommend adding additional time for groups over 4 people. Included is fuel, light drinks, cooler/ice, licenses and all lobstering equipment except snorkel gear. I can arrange rental snorkel sets for $10/pp.
A 2 regulator(2 person) hookah diving rig with 2 scuba tanks of air supply is available if you don’t believe in your breath hold abilities or the visibility is poor. It is a safe method of “scuba diving” without the need of a certification card. The air supply is a scuba dive tank on the boat with a 50′ hose Y’d to 2 20′ hoses fitted with scuba regulators. This can only be offered with a 6 hour trip for an additional $50. This works well when you find a hole full of lobster, but you still have to free dive to find them first. This will slow down the ability to process holes, which is necessary to have success.
Lobstering can be an entry level activity for an average person that already is a strong snorkeler, has a comfortable nature in/under the water and is not afraid of a challenge. You must be able to take direction and understand what is happening in the environment around you. I take new lobster divers out each week of season and some people find success and some do not. I understand your position and do my best to guide you along the way. It is a learning process that involves plenty of failures. It comes down to your grasp of your own abilities and the amount of preparation you are willing to invest in your time with me. Every season I have had customers with zero snorkeling experience in near drowning distress within 10 seconds of being in the water because they do not know how to snorkel. Please, do not come on my boat. I have had customers with blown out knees and blown ear drums and every kind of horrible medical condition, please do not come on my boat. I have had customers ask me if the lobster claws are dangerous, please do not come on my boat. So many of my customers ask me if they have to use a snorkel or fins, please do not come on my boat. I clearly understand that not all of the typical participants in my typical family lobstering trip can NOT perform the minimal requirements to catch a lobster unassisted. This is not an issue. If I have 6 people on board and everybody is expecting 1 person to catch 6 limits of lobster, please do not book this trip. This is a team effort. I do NOT sell these trips to you. This is an elected trip that you have to decide if this is a good fit for the participants in your group. Too many trips I have run were for groups that were completely unprepared or completely ignored the minimal requirements to catch a lobster. I expect you to be fairly solid on your side. These are custom trips and I cater to nearly everybody. If you are going to struggle or you are aware that you are unprepared, just let me know so I can make an appropriate game plan for your trip. I don’t mind if you are horrible at this. I just like to plan for it mentally. I like to enjoy my day too.
*Rates and requirements for mini season are different due to the logistics and time involved. Please ask. Mini season spots typically book a year in advance. DO NOT call me like a psychopath 8 times a day the week before mini season because you don’t believe I am booked or anticipate a cancellation. I will block you. I have to say this because that is what several people do each year and it has to stop. Leave 1 detailed voicemail and I will get to you when my day is done. I do not answer my phone when on the boat, but I sure hear it ring.
*MINI SEASON 2017**
It is hard to put into words the reality of Mini Season each year. It was beyond crazy 15 years ago and it continues to become more popular. There is too many people in too small of a space hunting essentially the same spots. The days leading up to mini season, many people elect to poach as many lobster as they can out of season to get them first. The first day of Mini Season the majority of available legal lobster are caught. The second day of Mini Season we are catching the legal lobster that have escaped the less skilled lobster hunters from Day 1. Season closes after 2 days and from there the weather and seasonal patterns determine how long it takes for these areas to fill in again with the migrating lobster. They may or may not be there for the regular seasonal opener. For the 2017 Mini Season dates, I will be offering 15% off any fishing charter because I would prefer to be fishing.