Saltwater fishing is one of Florida’s biggest attractions, drawing fanatical anglers from all across the country. With an endless seafood buffet of favorites to target, like Redfish, Snook, Grouper, Tarpon and many, many more, some anglers planning on a fishing trip to Florida may not realize that the Sunshine State is also home to fantastic shell fishing opportunities. For those willing or wanting to forgo a rod and reel, there are all manner of delicious things to catch by other fishing methods. One of the most exciting experiences available is swimming in the tropical waters surrounding the Florida Keys to catching Spiny Lobsters by hand.
Florida’s Spiny Lobsters don’t look much like what most folks think of when they imagine a lobster. Lacking the formidable claws of their more famous northern cousins, they can also be identified by their large spiny antennae and the prickly, forward pointing spines which cover their exoskeletons and help in deterring predators looking to make a meal of them. Always wear thick gloves when lobstering. Handle them without gloves and you risk ending up with swiss cheese hands.
Spiny lobsters can come in a variety of colors, ranging in a spectrum from almost white to a dark red-orange. Found in warm waters worldwide, they inhabit places where cover is abundant. Rock ledges, crevices, coral reefs and vegetation are all great places to locate these extra tasty crustaceans. And one of the great things about swimming after Florida lobster is they are rarely found in waters deeper than ten feet. This means you can do without expensive and bulky scuba gear and catch them free diving with a mask, snorkel and fins.
Another benefit of lobstering in the Florida Keys is that is a thrilling experience for large groups and families. Besides being great exercise, the clear, warm waters the lobsters live in are a fantastic natural aquarium where divers will see a vast variety of other exciting marine life. Groupers, sharks, eels, tarpon, rays and more are all common in the same waters the lobsters inhabit. So even if you don’t catch your limit in lobsters, you’ll still get to snorkel and explore the fabulous Florida Keys. Most fishing trips don’t come with a built-in consolation prize like that.
For those looking for a more adventurous vacation experience, it is wise to charter guides that offer specialized lobster trips, especially if you are new to lobstering. An experienced charter Captain will not only put you on the lobsters, but also make sure you and your party follow all the rules, like how to properly measure a lobster to make sure your catch is legal, and to make sure your aren’t breaking any other special lobster prohibitions. And as a bonus, they will usually have all the equipment needed (snorkels, masks, fins, nets, etc.) for your trip.
There are all sorts of ways to catch a meal from the ocean. Fishing with a rod and reel may be the most practical, but it would be hard to beat spending a day swimming in the crystal clear living ocean water with friends and family, catching your limit in lobster and finishing your trip off by eating a gourmet, hand caught lobster tail dinner. Remember that if the ocean is a buffet, there’s no reason not to try a little of everything