Caribbean Lobster Season usually starts right about now, although the exact dates vary from island to island.
I know when we lived in The Cayman Islands, it started at the beginning of December every year, even though the locals grabbed them pretty much whenever they wanted.
I wouldn’t recommend it though. The penalty for taking lobsters out of season can be fierce, with fines starting at $500.00 and possible jail time.
During season it’s a different story. If you’re visiting the islands during season, it’s game on…
I recommend grabbing as many as you’re allowed!
There are some obvious tips for a successful lobster hunt.
One includes night diving. Lobsters are nocturnal and venture forth from their rocky lairs under the cover of darkness. They are much easier to capture when out in the open. Some other tips are not as well known, and were picked up when we lived in the Cayman Islands by chatting with local fishermen.
For example: The little known fact that Lobsters swim “backwards” or tail-first… so it’s easier to catch them tail-first… they swim right in.
Here’s a small list of other tips and tricks that I have picked up in my elusive hunt for these tasty critters:
- Go at night. They are easier to catch and it just plain sounds cooler and more dangerous.
- Use your light as a weapon. So you can see in the dark, of course… but also because Lobsters tend to freeze when they get hit with blinding light. Most animals do, I guess. I know I do!
- Pin them down. If the lobster is out in the open, don’t grab away at it… come down on him like Hulk Hogan and pin him straight to the bottom with your hand or spear. If you go for the grab, chances are good that the lobster will be gone before you even decide to try to close your fingers around their spiny torso.
- Wear good gloves. Caribbean spiny-tail lobsters lack the large pinching claws of their famous, Maine relatives… They are, however, called “spiny” for a reason. They have a lot of very sharp spines that easily penetrate cheap dive gloves and puncture flesh. It hurts. Badly.
- Be decisive. During the daytime, and all too often at night, lobsters hide backed under the reef with just their heads sticking out. How you get them out of the crevice is perhaps the most difficult challenge you face in lobster hunting. Lobsters are stupid and curious but also very quick. This means that they will often venture forth from their holes to see what the hell is happening… but the moment they sense danger they’re gone.It’s important that you don’t hesitate to study the situation too long. Move in quickly, hopefully getting a hold of the head. The base of the antennae is also good (sometimes called the “horns”) as these will not break off.The lobster will do what is known as “locking-up”… by pressing its legs down and body up, it will wedge itself like an anchor into the reef. If you give them a good shake, chances are good you can thrown off their equilibrium. If they let go, slide them right on out.
- Lobsters are social. Find one, and there are probably more. Often, you just swim along and see hole after hole with no lobsters… then all of a sudden, there they all are.It often seems like lobsters choose their holes by committee. You see all these empty holes that could put 100 lobsters out of reach and they will all be empty. Then you find fifteen in a hole where they have no where to go.