Two things that tend to make any vacation incredible are great adventures and great food. With a lobster diving trip to the Florida Keys, you can accomplish both at the same time! While the phrase lobster “diving” might imply that you’ll need a scuba certification to participate, that isn’t the case at all. In most cases, the lobsters you’ll be attempting to catch will be in relatively shallow water, so you should have no problem accomplishing the task with a simple snorkeling setup. Here’s a closer look at how to find and catch lobsters in the Florid Keys.
The most common lobster found in the Florida Keys is the Spiny Lobster. The main difference between this Florida Species and northern species like the Maine Lobster is that the Spiny Lobster doesn’t have the large claws that many folks associate with the seafood staple. The Spiny Lobster has two long antennae sticking out of the front of their head and, as the name implies, a row of sharp spines along their back (emphasis on “sharp,” so you’ll want some good gloves when lobster diving).
The first lesson to becoming a master lobster diver is how to actually find the creatures in the first place. The lobsters will hide under objects, be them coral heads, rocks, or seaweed, so that’s where you should look. A popular way to scan a lot of areas is for a boat to drag a couple of divers (decked out in masks, snorkels, and fins) slowly behind some rope. If the divers spot an area on the bottom that looks promising, they’ll let go of the rope, dive down, and explore.
If you strike gold and find a ledge or rock that houses lobster, the next step is to calmly coax the lobster out of it’s hiding spot and into your net. This is done by using a simple stick (lovingly referred to as a “tickle stick”). The idea here is to “tickle” the lobster from the front and get it to scurry backward, right into the net that you’ll have to wait for it.
If you can stay calm and work smoothly, you’ll be able to catch one lobster at a time without spooking any of the others that might be hanging out on the same ledge or piece of coral.
One of the most important things you can do when lobster diving is to stay organized. Only bring the lobsters up during approved seasons and make sure that each one falls within the acceptable size range for keeping (you can purchase a cheap measure tool for this purpose). Finally, state laws dictate that each diver is only allowed to keep a certain amount of lobsters, so have someone on your boat which has the task of keeping a count. Violating any of the laws can come with an expensive price tag.