Lobster Season 2023 Monroe County, Florida Keys
Last month kicked off Florida’s 2023 Lobster sport season. Down here in the Keys we call it “Mini Season”. Thousands of visitors get out on the water for two days to catch as much lobster as they are legally allowed before the regular season begins. It is an opportunity for recreational enthusiasts to catch lobster before commercial boats put their traps in the water.
Over the years, the locals have witnessed some pretty wild things on the water during these two days. The massive influx of amateur boaters on the water can be dangerous if you aren’t paying attention. Many boaters are in a rush as they only get two days to get their quota. Some are also drinking alcohol, so you have to be careful out there.
Main Attraction Owners, Captain Marty and Katie Lewis have participated in many past mini-seasons, including 2019, 2020, and 2021. Last year, they decided to try something different. They left the Keys during the 2022 mini-season for a family vacation and to escape the madness. Then they hunted lobster a week later at the start of the regular season once everything settled down. They had such a great time they decided to do the same thing again this year.
They went to Palm City for a few days with the kids, taking them to a water park, the arcade, a trampoline park, and Bass fishing. They had a wonderful time; they got to relax and eat all sorts of yummy food.
A few days later, on the evening of August 5, the Lewis Family pulled all of their dive equipment and inspected it. They were excited about the opening of the regular lobster season the next day on, Sunday, August 6.
They ensured each person had a mask, snorkel, fins, and gloves. And as a rule of thumb, plenty of tickle sticks, nets, and lobster measuring gauges. They loaded the boat with their gear and a hooka rig. They also made a grocery run for snacks, lunch, and drinks. It has been a sweltering summer in the Keys, so they loaded up on water.
They woke up early the next morning, ate a nice breakfast, and headed out on the water.
One of their spots is a large rock that is a little deeper and usually gets overlooked. So, they went straight to that spot.
Unfortunately, the water was very cloudy and murky that day. The visibility was so low they couldn’t find their lucky rock. So, they went further south toward Content Key. Crossing over to the gulf side, they hoped the water would have better visibility, but there was more of the same. They literally could not see two feet in front of them in the water.
Whenever the Lewis family dives, they wear very bright colors to spot each other easily and just for safety in general. They also use a weighted bag and rope that they sink to the bottom. The other end of the rope is attached to a buoy or flag to warn passing boaters they are in the water.
The murky water made lobstering extremely challenging. They had to dive several feet before even being able to see the rocks. Katie was startled several times when she mistook the shadow from the marker as a shark sitting on the bottom. Despite the visibility issues, they found some keeper lobsters tucked under the rocks.
Whenever they found a few lobsters, they strapped a hooka rig to one person and had them work the rock. They did this because the conditions made it challenging to find the rock again once they came up for air. A hookah rig is simply a hose with a mouthpiece that attaches to an air compressor floating on the surface.
After they finished up at the first spot, the Lewis family relocated to a few clusters of rocks they had stored in their GPS. They found a rock in that area with several keeper lobsters under it. By now, they had a system where one diver would work a rock down on the bottom, and another would hover above to measure the lobsters. After measuring each lobster, the assisting diver would release the short lobsters and shuttle the keepers back to the boat.
By mid-day, the Lewis family had 14 keeper lobsters. Considering the challenges, they decided that was good enough and headed home. After cleaning and stowing their gear, everyone took showers and settled in.
Katie shelled a few lobsters and cut the fresh lobster meat into smaller pieces.
Katie dipped each piece in a light egg wash, then panko bread crumbs, and fried them. The lobster tasted incredible and was a huge hit with the family.It was a great start to another lobster season in the Florida Keys.
If you are headed down to the Florida Keys and looking to have some fun on the water, consider booking a private fishing charter with the Main Attraction team. Call us at (305)-289-0071 or visit our contact page.