With Florida’s open lobster season just around the corner (August 6), lobster divers have been gearing up to get their hands on the biggest, meatiest lobsters that can be found in the warm waters of the Sunshine State. The state opens a mini-season annually for the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, allowing a limit of 12 lobsters per diver per day, rather than the 6 allowed during regular season. Successes were recorded to be great for some, smaller for many, but it offered divers a good taste of what’s to come this season. If you’re interested in doing a lobster dive, there are no shortage of dive shops that can show you the ropes, but we can help you get started with the gear. Here are a few items you’ll want to have along for a successful lobster dive!
The goofy name of this tool describes exactly what it does: tickles the lobster (hopefully) into your waiting hand. Tickle sticks are typically made from lightweight aluminum or PVC, and are even available in telescoping models for a wider range. But a tickle stick is not only valuable for the motivation it gives the lobster to scurry out of its hiding place; it will serve as a valuable feeler in places you cannot see, saving you from possible injury from other marine creatures.
Remember, the lobster may be slow, but that doesn’t negate the danger they present, not to mention the critters they like to bunk with. If an eel decides it wants a bite out of your hand, there’s nothing much you can do about that, but you can try to prevent major damage by wearing proper protection. Gloves reinforced with Kevlar have been proven, time and again, to resist punctures by sea urchin spines, and provide ultimate protection from scrapes and abrasions while not compromising dexterity, a factor that is all too important to grabbing those bugs!
Now that you’ve got your tools in place, you’ll need a receptacle for your catch. Lobster catch bags are designed in a specific way that will not allow them to escape, usually with a one-way entry mechanism, and some kind of quick-release opening for easy removal of your catch. Some lobster divers simply use a net that resembles a large butterfly net to catch and contain the lobsters until they are ready to go up. Whichever method you choose, be sure that your bugs won’t be able to escape.