Florida Lobster Season 2024: Complete Guide

This Florida Lobster Season 2024 complete guide provides all the information you’ll need to enjoy the lobster season in the Sunshine State. The Florida lobster season attracts fishermen, seafood enthusiasts, and people from around the world who enjoy the tasty crustacean. Hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents participate in lobster season every year on the Treasure Coast and all around Florida. An estimated 40,000 people go to the Florida Keys alone to get lobsters, although the animal can be found all around the state.

When is Lobster Season in Florida?

florida lobster season 2024

This year, the mini season starts July 24-25. It begins at 12:01AM on Wednesday and ends at midnight on Thursday. The regular lobster season begins August 6 and ends March 31.

Florida has two lobstering seasons. The first is a “mini season“, which is considered the warm-up. The mini season allows lobster hunters to dip their toes in the water before the regular season kicks off.

The mini season was introduced in Florida in 1974 by local government officials who wanted to ease a conflict between recreational lobster hunters and commercial trappers. Florida wanted to allow individuals to catch some lobsters before commercial traps were deployed, and the mini season was born. Today, the mini season is an annual tradition that’s highly anticipated by thousands of people.

Rules for Florida Lobster Season 2024

A few rules keep the Florida lobster season safe and fun. One rule is that lobsters must be caught in their whole condition. Separating the tail from the body in state waters is prohibited. Lobster and fish carcasses are also prohibited from being discarded in the ocean. Dead lobsters can quickly decompose and affect the ecosystem’s health.

florida lobster season rules

Florida also prohibits the harvesting of egg-bearing lobsters. If you discover a lobster has eggs, you must return it to the water. To check for eggs, look underneath the tail. The eggs will be orange and attached to the bottom of the tail.

Additionally, it’s not permitted to catch lobster using any device that could puncture or crush the lobster’s shell or flesh. A final rule is that boaters should use a mooring buoy where possible. A mooring buoy helps protect coral reefs. The Florida Keys have the only living coral barrier reef in the nation, and the Sunshine State wants to protect its coral.

What are the Florida Lobster Season Daily Bag Limits?

There is a daily bag limit of six lobsters per person during the regular lobster season. Counties throughout Florida are strict about the number of lobsters a person can take daily during the Florida lobster season.

During the mini season, the daily bag limit is 12 lobsters per person, which is one reason the mini season is so special. People are not allowed to take a second trip to get more lobsters. The daily bag limits apply for the entirety of the day, and the counties ensure that people comply with daily bag limits.

When lobstering, hunters must also comply with size limits. The carapace must be larger than three inches and should be measured in the water. Size limits apply to the mini and regular lobster seasons in Florida.

Gear Needed for Florida Lobster Season

Lobstering requires the right gear, which depends on your plans for catching lobsters. You’ll need a lobster trap if you plan to catch lobsters passively. A trap aims to get the lobster to a place where it can be easily caught. Next, you’ll need bait. Lobsters love rotting food, so common baits include decaying seafood scraps and seaweed. Once you’ve set your trap with bait, it’s time to wait and hope that a lobster comes along.

lobster season diving gear

You should also purchase gloves. Gloves are essential to protect your hands. In 2019, a man in Martin County learned that lobsters do indeed bite after a lobster nipped off the tip of his finger during the lobster mini season.

Once you’ve caught a lobster, you’ll need a lobster gauge. Florida requires that lobsters be a specific size before being placed in a game bag, and a lobster gauge will help you ensure that your measurements are accurate. The lobster must have a minimum carapace length of three inches.

You’ll also need a mesh game bag to keep your lobster in your possession. It’s important that the bag can easily open shut and has a secure locking mechanism. Lobsters are faster than they look and can quickly escape.

The essential equipment for diving for lobsters is a set of fins and a mask. You’ll also need a dive light or a torch. A light is essential to see where the lobsters are hiding, and it is especially helpful for night diving. Dive flags are also crucial so fellow divers and boaters know precisely where you are. When other boaters see a dive flag, they will avoid the area. It’s important to stay within 300 feet of your dive flag.

Ensure your diving gear is in good working order before entering the water. Some people think that scuba diving is the only way to catch lobster. However, it’s also possible to find lobsters using snorkeling gear. Lobsters can be found in just a couple of feet of water, which makes them accessible to snorkelers.

The Easiest Way to Catch a Lobster During Florida Lobster Season

florida lobster season

Catching lobsters in Florida requires a little bit of practice. It’s best to use the easiest methods, especially if you’re new to lobstering. The most popular way to catch lobsters is by using a tickle stick and a short-handle net. Many people use tickle sticks to catch lobsters. A tickle stick is a thin stick about two feet long. The tickle stick encourages the lobsters out of their hiding places so they can easily be caught.

To use a tickle stick and net, first locate a lobster. Once you find its hiding spot, position the net near the hole’s exit. Slide the tickle stick behind the lobster so that it crawls out of the hole and into the net. Don’t grab lobsters by their antennas. Lobsters can self-amputate, which means the lobster can escape but probably won’t survive. Instead, hold the lobster securely by its shell.

Florida Lobster vs. Maine Lobster

When considering the Maine lobster vs. Florida lobster, both lobsters look similar, but the Florida lobster lacks giant claws. Additionally, Florida lobsters are meatier than Maine lobsters, but many people prefer the taste of Maine lobster over Florida’s species.

florida lobster vs maine lobster

Maine lobsters have large claws that Florida Lobsters lack.

Another difference between Maine lobster vs. Florida lobsters is size. Caribbean spiny lobsters have a carapace of up to three inches. Maine lobsters can grow larger, reaching up to five inches, and are considered more valuable due to their size.

Where to Find Lobsters in Florida?

It’s possible to catch lobsters on every coast of Florida, but some spots are more popular for lobster season. Florida Keys has the largest population of lobsters in Florida, and about 70% of lobsters are caught in Monroe County. Lobsters love warm, shallow waters because they can easily find food and shelter. The Florida Keys provides the ideal habitat for lobsters.

The Treasure Coast is far less rich in lobsters than the Keys, but there are still some great spots to catch lobsters. Treasure Coast hunters can find lobsters anywhere that would provide excellent shelter for the creatures. This includes coral reefs, underwater debris, and parts of the water with many rocks, natural ledges, and crevices.

Florida Lobster Season on the Treasure Coast

The Treasure Coast is a great place to find lobsters for those who don’t want to make a long trek south. A few spots on the Treasure Coast provide an excellent opportunity to enjoy Florida’s 2024 lobster season. Below are a few places to consider for this Florida lobster season.

treasure coast lobster

This massive lobster that was caught on the Treasure Coast. (Source: Scuba Board)

The SISA Reefs in Indian River County

Indian River County has several artificial reefs. The SISA reefs are one place where divers can find lobsters. They are usually located about 40 to 60 feet deep in the water here. This is also not far off from the Sebastian Inlet which is another hotspot.

Peck Lake at the St. Lucie Inlet

peck lake hobe sound

Peck Lake is in a hidden corner of Hobe Sound, south of the St. Lucie Inlet. The reef at Peck Lake is full of ledges, caverns, and crevices that attract multiple species of lobster. During the Florida lobster season, divers usually cover every inch of the lake.

Riomar Beach in Vero Beach, Florida

The cove off Riomar Beach is a favorite spot for fishermen and a hidden gem. It’s also a great place to catch lobsters in Indian River County.

Pepper Park in Fort Pierce, Florida

Pepper Beach Park

Pepper Park is another place for lobstering on the Treasure Coast. It’s popular among fishermen, snorkelers, and divers because It provides an easy opportunity to search for lobsters.

Wabasso Beach in Vero Beach, Florida

Wabasso Beach Sunset

Lobster enthusiasts in Vero Beach can bring their snorkeling and diving gear to Wabasso Beach, where they can find lobsters and other hidden treasures. The beach has a great reef, a perfect habitat for lobsters.

Stan Blum Boat Ramp in Fort Pierce, Florida

Stan Blum Boat Ramp is a hidden gem that’s popular among locals. The Stan Blum Boat Ramp in Fort Pierce is a safe location that has gained publicity in recent years due to the large number of lobsters caught by locals.

Sandsprit Park in Stuart, Florida

sandsprit park docks

Sandsprit Park is located at the entrance to the Manatee Pocket and is another good spot to find lobsters. During the mini season, people bring their coolers to the park expecting to find lobsters. Locals dock at Sandsprit Park at night and swim down to find lobsters. You can also try your hand offshore where some reefs could house the crustaceans.

Florida Lobster Season Requires a License

A license is needed to catch lobster. Florida Keys officials require that lobster season participants have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit. Fortunately, getting a license or permit in Florida is a quick and easy process.

There are several ways to get a license and a permit. You can apply online or visit an agent’s office. You can also apply for a license via the Fish Hunt Florida app, which is available on Android and Apple devices.

License fees vary based on residency. Residents pay $17 for the year, while non-residents pay $47. A more affordable option for non-residents is a three-day or seven-day license. The three-day license costs $17, and the seven-day costs $30.

The 2024 Key West Lobsterfest

lobsterfest in key west

Each year, the Key West celebrates the new lobster season with a celebration and festival called the Key West Lobsterfest. The festival starts on August 8 and ends on August 11. The Key West Lobsterfest has become a highly anticipated tradition that celebrates the opening of the lobster season.

The festival features live music, entertainment, and fantastic seafood. Multiple vendors will be present at the 2024 Key West Lobsterfest. Something new occurs each day of the festival, from lobster boils to pool parties, street fairs, live music, and pub crawls. The Key West Lobsterfest is an exciting and perfect way to kick off the Florida 2024 lobster season.

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