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From The Boathouse: Grab on to that lobster

September 27, 2012|By Mike Whitehead

Ahoy!

Great news that our local recreational lobster season begins Saturday, and I cannot wait to see lobsters being delivered on my doorstep. Yes, I do take bribes. Panulirus interruptus is the species of clawless lobster in our coastal waters, which are slightly smaller than the East Coast Maine lobsters that have claws.

The recreational season for the California spiny lobsters runs from the Saturday proceeding the first Wednesday in October until the first Wednesday after March 15. This season's dates are Saturday through Wednesday, March 20.

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If you plan to go lobster hunting then follow the rules or a visit by a Department of Fish and Game officer will ruin your day. Thus, I have an overview of the regulations for the recreational fishermen or divers, and remember the regulations are slightly different then the rules for the commercial guys.

First and foremost, you have to possess a current fishing license, the lobster report card and a lobster gauge. Missing any one of these items can result in a DFG fine.

Remember, that you can only catch lobsters by hand or with a hoop net, and the minimum size is 3.25 inches 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. You can bring a lobster to the surface for measuring, but by no means can an undersized lobster be brought aboard any boat. Thus, you must measure immediately, and all shorties (term for undersize lobsters) must be released immediately into the water.

Additionally, all spiny lobsters that you keep shall be kept whole so they can be measured until you are ready to prepare the critter to eat. California Fish and Game Code Section 5508 says, "It is unlawful to possess on any boat or bring ashore any fish upon which a size or weight limit is prescribed in such a condition that the size or weight cannot be determined. Separating the tail from the carapace (body) makes it impossible to determine if the lobster was of legal size, so the animal must remain whole until you are ready to cook it. If cooking for immediate consumption while at sea, retain the carapace until the tail is consumed."

By no means can a recreational fisherman use any traps or tickle sticks to help capture lobsters. If you catch a lobster on your hook while fishing then you must immediately return the bug to the water.

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