During lobster season in the Florida Keys, people with a recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit can harvest up to six lobster per person per day. The regular season starts on August 6 and ends on March 31. If you’re ready to have a fun-filled day of snorkeling and searching for lobsters, and you want to eat your catch too, check out this guide on lobster fishing in the Florida Keys.
What You Need To Catch Lobsters
Spiny lobsters in the Florida Keys require a particular set of gear to catch properly. You’ll need:
- Fishing boat (rent one at our marina!)
- Diving gear (flippers, mask and snorkel)
- Lobster net
- Tickle sticks
- Catch bag
- Dive flag
- Lobster measuring gage
Do you need a license to catch lobster in Florida? You will need a recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Also, visit our Florida Keys Bait Shops to get all the gear you need for a catch!
How To Catch Florida Lobsters
If you’re used to catching lobsters with traps or spears, please note: recreational lobster trapping during lobster season is prohibited throughout Florida. Spearfishing for lobster is prohibited in the Florida Keys, and so is any method that will puncture or break the carapace (the hard shell of the lobster).
Before you dive in, make sure to place your dive flag UP. Stay within 300 meters of your dive flag for safety. Make sure someone is on the boat to keep an eye on divers to prevent injury.
The lobsters blend in with the environment pretty well, so spotting them can be tricky. However, if you look for movement on the seafloor, you’ll likely be able to find one. You’ll typically find them in structures, holes, and under rocks, but they can sometimes hang out in the grass.
To coax them out of their hiding spot, you’ll have to tickle them. Don’t just jab at the lobster in the area. Gently slide the tickle stick under their belly to get them to start walking forward. You don’t want to jerk it out too quick or touch their tail, otherwise, they’ll go back to the hole.
Once you’ve spotted one and it’s out, get it with your net. Place the net over the lobster. Keep in mind that lobsters swim backward!
So when you get it with your net, make sure that if it jets backward, it stays trapped in the net. Once you have the lobster in your net twist the net to prevent the lobster from escaping as they are very quick and will escape if you are not careful.
Now that you’ve caught a lobster, you must measure it to see if you can keep it. If the lobster from the top of the shell is longer than your gauge, you’re good to go. Toss it in a lobster tank and repeat the process until you’ve got six legal lobsters to keep!
Can You Cook The Lobsters You Catch?
YES! You can keep and cook the lobsters you catch during mini-season or during the lobster season. In the Keys, you can catch up to six lobsters per person daily. Remember this rule: it’s there for a reason! We want to make sure that we can continue to fish for lobsters every single year, and this rule allows us to do that while also not interfering with the commercial lobster traps.
Florida Keys Marinas
We love lobster fishing, and we think you will too. That’s why if you stay at Sea Bird Marina, we will get you everything you need to start looking for lobster. We have a trailer parking and boat ramps in Florida Keys. If you do not have your own boat, rent one of our boat rentals. Our full stocked bait NS tackle shop has the supplies you need or left behind. Our staff will be happy to advise you on where to lobster and how it is done. We also have vacation rentals for those who want to stay longer.