Get out your lobster gear. The sport season for California’s spiny lobster opened at 12:01 a.m. and continues through March 21.
Laguna Niguel residents can head to Dana Point Harbor where they should have great luck catching a few, according to Andrew Hughan of the Department of Fosh and Game, "there will probably be lots of lobster fishermen on the pier and in boats leaving Dana Point right at midnight. Our boat will also be on patrol all night. It's one of the busiest days/nights of the year for DFG enforcement."
Regulations governing the sport take of spiny lobster have helped to preserve the tradition of lobster diving and hoop netting in Southern California. The 2011-12 spiny lobster season regulations include: Anglers (16 years or older) must possess a valid sport fishing license, enhancement stamp and a lobster report card.
Hughan added, "DFG Wardens will be out in force on the ocean, beaches and piers in Orange County all weekend checking for fishing licenses, lobster tags and proper equipment. A fine for fishing without a license can be a $1,000 or more!"
Rules and Regulations Before You Go
- Children who are under 16 and fishing for lobster must possess a lobster report card.
- Lobster report cards need to be filled out while you are on your fishing trip. Prior to the start of your fishing activity, the card holder must record the month, day, location and gear code on the card.
- When finished fishing or changing locations the fishermen must immediately record the number of lobster taken from that location. Lobster report cards must be returned to the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) by the end of January of the following year regardless of whether you used the card or were able to catch any lobster. This information is extremely valuable for management, so please don’t forget to turn in your cards.
- Anglers who fill up a report card can turn in their card and purchase another. Spiny lobster taken must measure at least 3 1/4 inches in length, and are measured in a straight line on the mid-line of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell.
- The daily bag and possession limit is seven lobsters.
- Divers may take lobsters by hand only.
- For those catching lobster with a hoop net, the upper ring or rings shall be connected to the bottom ring and supported by no more than six rigid support arms, and the assembled frame shall measure no more than 10 inches tall. This is a change in the regulations not printed in the Ocean Regulations or the supplement.
- No more than five hoop nets may be possessed by a person when taking spiny lobster or crab. No more than 10 hoop nets may be possessed aboard a vessel, regardless of how many fishermen are onboard. DFG has fish samplers working at many launch ramps and beaches, and they’re anxious to interview anglers and measure their lobsters to collect information on this valuable fishery.
The complete set of spiny lobster regulations are contained in the 2011-12 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulationsand wherever fishing licenses are sold. More information about California’s spiny lobster is available on the DFG website at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine.