STATEWIDE — Divers and hoop netters will be allowed back in and on the water just before sunrise on Sept. 30, as California’s spiny lobster season kicks off during the final Saturday of the month. The recreational lobster season continues through March 21, 2018.
One of the most notable changes of the upcoming recreational lobster season is the official start time – divers and hoop netters have to wait an extra six hours, compared to years past, to start hunting for spiny bugs.
The spiny lobster season officially begins Sept. 30 at 6 a.m.
The daily recreational bag limit remains at one bag per person (unless authorized otherwise) and seven lobsters per bag.
All seven lobsters must be consumed or disposed (i.e. eaten or given away) before returning to the water for more bugs.
California law also restricts the number of baited hoop nets aboard a vessel to five per person and no more than 10 total, regardless of the total number of people aboard.
Caught lobsters must be three and one-fourth inches large. Lobsters, according to state officials, are “measured in a straight line on the midline of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell.”
Any who catches a lobster must carry with them a device “capable of accurately measuring the size of the lobster.”
“Due to the curvature of the lobster’s carapace and the measurement method described [by state regulation], a tape measure or ruler is not capable of measuring the size of the lobster accurately; a gauge with a fixed span works best,” Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) staff stated on the state agency’s website.
There are a few new regulations in place for the upcoming spiny lobster season.
Hoop net buoys used south of Santa Barbara, for example, must be marked for enforcement and identification.
Lobster divers may only take the spiny crustaceans by hand; take by spear is permitted so long as it is not used to aid in the taking of the bug.
Bugs caught in a hoop net can be measured aboard a boat to determine whether they are undersized. All undersized catches must be tossed back into the water.
Don’t forget to purchase your spiny lobster report cards, which is available through DFW or anywhere sportfishing licenses are sold. Report cards must be turned in whether or not you catch or take any lobster.
Derek Stein Photo