Mini Lobster Season in the Florida Keys, is one of the busiest times of the year. Mini Lobster Season is an annual event that falls on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July, bringing thousands of people to Monroe County. For 2019, that means on July 24th and 25th, properly licensed recreational individuals can hunt Spiny Lobster before thousands of commercial lobster traps are deployed on August 6th. Most vacation rentals start on the Saturday prior, so the locals start to feel the congestion the weekend before. Although it can feel a little crowded for the locals, the influx of tourism is a wonderful thing for local businesses and the Florida Keys economy.
While many are out on the water scouting their Lobster holes from the years prior, or trying to discover new spots for the opening morning of Mini, the Main Attraction fleet is still out in full force fishing offshore. We stay consistently busy this week with clients who are either not interested in lobstering, or those who are in town to do both. We find because so many people are inshore during the mini-season, there are fewer boats offshore and it usually turns out to be a pretty great week for us to catch fish.
Please remember the FWC has very strict rules about lobster and it is always a good idea to brush up on them, prior to entering the water. First key point, you must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit. You may (as of writing this article) keep (of legal size and all the other guidelines) six lobsters per person, per day. A tickle stick and net may be used to catch the legal lobster. You must have a lobster measuring gauge and know how to use it correctly. If the lobster is too small or is an egg bearing female, it must be returned to the water safely.
Lobsters must be kept alive and in whole condition while you are out on the water. Remember to always have a dive flag that can be seen from 360 degrees, which means you typically want to hoist it at the highest part of your vessel. FWC and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office are out in full force during these two days, patrolling and making stops to ensure all parties are following the strict guidelines.
Lobster can also be caught at night using the Bully-netting technique. Lobster come out of their holes at night to hunt. With some bright lights and a special net and pole, you can scoop them up.
Can you catch lobster anywhere? NO! Sanctuaries, state parks, national parks, Dry Tortugas, etc. are just some areas that lobstering is prohibited. It is a great idea to read up on the Regulations for Recreational Harvest and Lobster Information prior to engaging in this fun and exciting activity. From all of us at Main Attraction, we hope you have a great Mini Season and please be safe and follow the rules!
FWC Lobster page
FWC Monroe County Details PDF