|Rick Jason on Offshore Paddle wheeler|
One can understand that timing the hunt season is important when the diver plans to capture his dinner. If you hunt too early, you will find lots of ling cod and ocean pouts occupying those holes. If you go too late, the lobster may have moved off or have already been bagged. Lobsters are known to occupy holes with alternate escape routes. They continually scan with their sensitive antenna underwater movement and motion. They are wary of predators while tirelessly searching for food. Waiting for the right moment they are surprisingly quick clutching at unsuspecting fish or scurrying back into their holes as an adversary approach. Dive hunters should be aware of unnecessary movement and practice control of their underwater advances. This is where lobstering becomes an art. Successful lobster divers command a stealthy approach fully focused on their own movements, anticipating the prey, and foraging continuously from hole to hole. Little time is wasted over examining suspected homes. Some divers reach in crevices without hesitation, sometimes pulling out sleepy eel pouts or red hake lounging in previously occupied homes. The less warning, the more likely you are to pull out the bug without any challenges. Over analyzing can lead to escapes or a tug of war battle where the lobster pins its powerful tail unmovable into the hole. When this happens, the diver then may get grabbed himself or the lobster may give up a claw and escape.
|Two 18 pounders from the S.S. Northern Pacific|
Reach in. Go ahead. Getting the courage to stick your hand into a dark hole with two snapping claws is an adrenalin pumping rush. Reach high above the claws and grab the carapace. Once you get your hand on your first lobster twist and pull. If there is any snag let go for a second, regain your grip and continue to pull. It’s out and in your hand. Keep it away from vital parts and equipment like your mask and regulator hose. Know the difference between male and female. The female has a broader tail with soft appendages to hold eggs. If there are eggs (purple reddish berries) under the tail, carefully put her back in her home. If it has no berries or a V notch cut out of the tail, measure the length of the carapace. Check with current laws to measure the minimum and maximum length allowed for your area. There are federal and state laws that affect your measurement. If the bug is legal, open your bag and slip the bug in tail first. Lobsters swim backward and will try to slip out if you open the bag too far. Keep hunting, when you reach your maximum limit, you can always exchange the small ones for bigger ones. Be aware the bigger bugs will crush the little ones. Serious divers carry two bags to keep them separated. During the early summer months lobsters will be molting and are the most vulnerable. If you capture one of these softies, you should put them back safely in their home where they will not become a fish meal.
When you get on the boat, check your measurements again. It is easy to make a mistake underwater and you will do little damage if you get the short lobster back in the water right away. Eggs may be damaged by the pressure change and that is irresponsible hunting. Bug hunting is exciting and a long-time diving pastime. Properly equip yourself, follow the current laws and successful bugging will provide you with many dinners. If all else fails, dive at night. Lobsters are nocturnal feeders. They wander around in the dark hunting for prey and a new home. Your cooler could be that home too.
Bug Hunting Tips.
Know the laws, limits and have proper permits.
Only two claws are allowed per lobster body.
Measure and re-measure to be sure.
No gigs, spears, gaffs, or mechanical devices are legal for capture.
Keep your lobster on ice or submerged at depth below the thermocline to keep them fresh.
Band your lobster to protect yourself, other lobsters, and the cook.