Final spiny lobster season of 2010s is officially open

Crustacean hunting for 2019-20 season began on Sept. 28.

STATEWIDE—Fall is here, which means it’s also time for spiny lobster hunting. California’s final spiny lobster season of the 2010s officially opened on Sept. 28. Divers and other lobster hunters officially took to the waters off the Southern California coast at 6 a.m. on the final Saturday of September, hoping to catch spiny lobsters. The 2019-20 spiny lobster season runs through March 18, 2020.

All divers and hunters must obtain and maintain a lobster report card. Those who are 16 and older must also have a valid sportfishing license and ocean enhancement stamp in order to catch lobster south of Point Arguello. Hoop netters who are hunting for spiny lobsters at public piers and children age 16 and younger do not need a license but must still have a valid lobster report card.

California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) stated there was a 16 percent increase in reported catches of spiny lobsters during the 2018-19 season (when compared to the 2017-18 season).

“You might think this is due to more fishing effort, but the average number of lobsters caught per trip increased, too,” DFW Marine Environmental Scientist Jenny Hofmeister said in a released statement.

Legally caught spiny lobsters generally weigh in at one pound. A trophy sized catch would weigh five pounds.

“Spiny lobster taken must measure at least 3.25 inches and 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.” DFW staff stated. “The daily bag limit is seven lobsters.”

Here are some other rules to follow during spiny lobster season:

  • Lobsters can be taken with hoop nets
  • Lobsters can be taken by hand only when skin or SCUBA diving
  • Fish spears, poles and other similar appliances are not allowed to assist in lobster hunting
  • A maximum of five hoop nets can be possessed by one person
  • A maximum of 10 hoop nets can be possessed aboard a vessel.

Suggested bait for spiny lobster hunting include squid, Pacific mackerel, bonito, anchovies and sardines. Oily or aromatic baits are also suggested.

“Because lobsters are strong and have hair-trigger responses when they sense predators, the best strategy for divers is usually to grab or pin them to the bottom of their body, rather than grabbing it by a leg or antennae which will likely tear off,” DFW staff stated.

Lobster report cards must be turned in to the state by April 30, 2020, whether or not you caught any lobsters.

“Failure to submit an accurate report card by the deadline will result in a non-reporting fee that is charged when you purchase a report card next season,” DFW staff stated.

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