So I spent plenty of time as a teenager snorkeling off the reefs of Cardiff-by-the-Sea in North County San Diego honing the fine art of finding and catching lobster. Skin diving is the best way to do it and in my mind the cleanest way to catch a nice lobster dinner because it’s much more of a sport when you have a limited amount of air and you have to finesse the catch in your air window. I still subscribe to that philosophy…it kind of feels like cheating if I catch them when I’m scuba diving. Of course, if I see a good lobster when I’m scuba diving and it’s in season and I’m all permitted up then I won’t shy away from bringing home the little extra-terrestrial creature for some fine dining…it just feels a little different. So here are the 5 tips to catch a lobster:
Tip #1 – Put yourself in the head of a lobster…if you lived in the ocean and were eluding predators where would you go? I suspect it would be a nice rock pile or a reef formation with some appealing cracks and crevices. Move in slow and have a light so you can see in those cracks and crevices. Keep a close eye out for their antennas…that’s generally what you see before their beady little eyes. Once you locate your future meal it’s time for the critical catch.
Tip #2 – Move slowly. They know you’re out there and they’re curious. If you move slowly they will start to put their antennas out and feel around and try to determine just what’s going on outside of their humble abode. Just sit back and wait for them to slowly venture out.
Tip #3 – Be Patient. Don’t lunge in for the catch right away. Let them come out just enough so you you know you can sneak your hand over top of them avoiding their sensitive antennas. I’ve had many attempts go bad because I was just impatient…or running out of air and made a desperation grab. Once you do that they aren’t coming out again and you’ll likely kick up sand and dirt in the process which will make it hard to find them again.
Tip #4 – Positioning is everything. Avoid the antennas at all costs when you are positioning yourself for the grab. The strategy which has worked for me 90% of the time is coming in over the top. I put the back of my hand just above them and wedge it up on the rock over their head and slowly inch it back watching where their antennas are going and keeping my forearm up at an angle away from their tender touch. If that antenna hits you it’s game over…they back that thing up quicker than you can imagine. There goes dinner. Never grab their antennas…they’ll break off and you’ll feel bad…and you should because you failed Lobster Catching School 101.
Tip #5 – Be decisive in the moment. As soon as you know you can come down over the core part of their body just behind their eyeballs with your entire hand do it quickly and aggressively. You’re in the ocean and there is no forgiveness. If you miss the moment it’s not likely to happen again…at least in that location. As soon as you come down on them they’re moving backwards with their tail and they are way more powerful than you would imagine such little guys could be. So hold on tight and if you need to push them down into the ground so you can get a firmer grip and come around them a little more then do it. Don’t lose that grip. Enjoy one of the best tasting funniest looking creatures in the sea!
Here’s a great link from California Diving with some of the rules and regulations when it comes to lobster. Check it out HERE.