Ways You Can Catch A Lobster

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Many bug-catchers much await lobster season all over SoCal. It is quite an experience for many divers, netters, and lobster hunters as these creatures are quite evasive and put up a good fight.

how to catch spiny lobster
My lobster catch.

The California Spiny may not be easy to catch, but it can become the tastiest meal once you get your hands on it. There is no one sure way to catch spiny lobsters. But there are many ways you can try your luck.

Here are the different ways you can bag and catch spiny lobsters.

How To Catch Lobster

Lobster Fishing By Hand 

You need to remember when fishing for spiny lobsters by hand is you can’t use any tools other than your hand. The use of a tickle stick and net to catch a lobster is not allowed. You either go at it on a scuba dive tank or through a free dive when hand lobstering. Make sure to have your lobster dive gloves ready.

Although with freediving, there are more time limits than scuba diving for lobsters. Essentially, when you scuba dive for spiny lobsters, you can go into deeper waters for more extended periods of time, giving you a chance to catch bigger bugs. Here are the things you need to keep a note of when you plan to hand-catch lobsters. 

  1. Make sure to have a PADI certificate or a diving license when you go down the deep for lobsters.
  2. Bring a lobster gauge before you go for your dive to measure your caught lobsters. Do this by taking the measurement along the midline from the rear of the eye socket between the horns to the last bit of the body shell or the end of the carapace. 
  3. Usually, the bugs will shoot backward, so try to aim slightly at the tail and be quick to pin them to the ground. 
  4. Do not shine a flashlight at the spiny lobsters, as this will scare them away. Keep the light off to the side and its edge to illuminate the lobsters. 
  5. Check out the top or the crevices of rocky structures with red seaweed growing on them when lobster fishing in California.
  6. Bring a catch bag, but we suggest you leave your speargun to avoid the entanglement of the two when on a bug dive. 
  7. When using a floatline, you may attach your lobster catch bag to your float for safety. 

Lobster Fishing with a Trap                                                                                         

A more traditional way to catch a lobster is through lobster traps or lobster pots. Spiny lobsters walk from 20 to 100 feet off the seafloor, and the best way to catch them is by a lobster trap.

Fill your bait bag with herring, then hang this bag of bait inside your lobster pot trap. Tie it to the trap trawl to set it, and use three to four bricks to sink it to the bottom before tying it up to a buoy. Water lobsters will enter the trap through a funnel, and this design will prevent them from escaping.

The caught lobsters will expectedly tear up the bait bag. After some decent amount of time, retrieve your lobster pot or trap out of the water by hand or a boat pulley. Once you get hold of your caught lobsters, measure them, and any lobster that does not make the regulation size should be thrown back. 

Lobster Fishing With a Hoop Net

Any lobster fisherman knows that hoop-netting lobsters can get tricky. You can successfully use a hoop net to catch a lobster with the right tricks. Knowing the right spot where these lobsters are will up your chance of netting them from a fishing boat.

Once you find the cold water where the lobsters are, start your lobster hunting by prepping your bait securely in a holed PVC pipe or bait holder, then putting it inside the hoop net. Throw the net to your lobster spot, and you and your buddies wait for about 45 minutes prior to pulling it out of the water. 

Lobster Fishing with a Fishing Pole

While catching a lobster with a pole or rod is possible, this is illegal. If you happen to fish for a lobster with a rod, please return it back to the water. Lobsters can only be caught by hand or with a hoop net. 

Here’s a guide on lobster fishing in California: How to Catch Pacific Lobster (California Spiny)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best bait to catch lobsters?

Choosing bait for lobsters is easy. You have various good choices, like herring for lobster traps, tuna, and mackerel for hoop nets. Anything with high oil content will attract your target lobsters.

Where do you find lobsters?

You can find and catch a lobster when you target cold water regions of the ocean.

Insider Advice

When lobster fishing for spiny lobsters, leave the tickle stick and rod and make sure you bring with you a valid license and a spiny lobster report card. You can keep it on your fishing boat if you’re diving for lobsters. Make sure to bring a lobster gauge to know that your caught lobster is in the legal size range. 

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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