MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Grab your tickle stick. Florida's two-day lobster mini season officially gets underway Wednesday night.
The recreational two-day season starts at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 28, and ends at midnight the following day. The regular season begins Aug. 6 every year and runs through March 31.
"It's almost like a kid on Christmas Day for us Floridians that look forward to lobster season," said Jeremy Martinez.
He is the head of the Indian Creek Police Marine Patrol Unit, but at midnight he's taking off the badge and putting on his diving gear.
"We treat it like a holiday season. I have friends coming in from Fort Myers. We've been doing it traditionally for like the last 20 years," he said.
The Wenger family loading up their truck and getting ready too.
"It is exciting. It's like waking up early, getting all the gear in the truck and just going. Getting in the water before the sun's all the way up," said Tristen Wenger.
For them this has become a family tradition.
"I've been doing it for 30 years with my family," said Tristen's dad Lester. "These guys got certified at 10 years old, diving. It's just something that brings everyone together as a family unit," he said.
The family brought in a good haul last year
While Florida has three varieties of lobster, state wildlife officials say that most fishermen prefer the Florida spiny lobster, also known as the Caribbean spiny lobster, which is often called "bugs."
The spiny lobster inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
Normally, the best time to catch a Florida spiny lobster is at night since lobsters stay in their dens during daylight hours to avoid predators and only come out after dark to look for food.
There is an extensive public awareness initiative underway in the Florida Keys to help keep divers safe and following the rules.
According to state law, during the two-day sport lobster season, divers and snorkelers can take up to six lobsters per person day in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, 12 per person per day for the rest of Florida.
Learn more about bag limits, size limits, where to harvest and other regulations at MyFWC.com/Marine by clicking on "Recreational Regulations" and "Lobster," which is under the "Crabs, Lobster and other Shellfish" tab. If you plan to lobster in the Keys, another great resource is the Monroe County Tourist Development Council website KeysLobsterSeason.com.
Don't forget to get your license and spiny lobster permit at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.
There are a number of regulations for lobster harvesting.
One is if the carapace or shell of the lobster is not 3 inches or more you can't harvest them. And keep your eyes open for diver's flags.
"This is the most important symbol everybody's going to see when they're out for mini season. This means there are divers in the water actively harvesting," said Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesman Tyson Matthews.
Don't forget to use care around corals and other marine life. The FWC launched the Florida Coral Crew to engage sportsmen and women in the effort to combat Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Before you go out looking for lobster, you can sign up to join the crew at FLCoralCrew.com.
- Divers must possess a measuring device, and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured.
- Taking egg-bearing females is prohibited.
- The spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush the shell of the lobster may not be used.
- Night diving is not allowed in Monroe County. Additionally, there is no lobster hunting in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and in the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary during both the 2-day sport season and regular season.
- You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit.
- Safety equipment such as flares, life jackets, and fire extinguishers are required to be onboard the vessel.
- Dive flags must be utilized a with measurement of 20 x 24 inches mounted on the highest point of boat, and 12 x 12 inches if the flag is in the water.
Click Here for more lobster mini season rules and regulations from the FWC.
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