Long Island, New York Scuba Diving

Our Long Island Scuba diving adventures and events

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Catching Lobster, a diver’s guide to Locating Larry

Come the warmer weather I’ll stop buying so much meat at the market. By the end of April I will be able to substitute some of it for Blackfish and of course my beloved lobster. From May through November I probably eat enough lobster to turn into one. And “No”, I never get sick of them. You got your Lobster grilled, steamed Lobster, lobster salad, lobster rolls, lobster bisque, Lobster sauce, (Wait a minute, this is starting to sound a bit familiar) lobster ravioli, lobster and steak, stuffed lobster. “And that’s it Forest.”
Most new divers and underwater hunters want to know two things about lobster. First, how do you find them? And second, how the hell do you catch them without losing a finger?
Locating Lobsters is fairly simple. You need to understand several things. The three most important points are that they are nocturnal, they like to always have their bellies on sand and they are very territorial. If you are night diving you are likely top see lobsters out for a stroll if there are any in the area. They will usually be close to a hole that they use to hide in during the daytime. The hole will be located under a large rock, where two rocks lean together, under some sunken wood (they love wood), In a debris fields where it meets the sand and inside of pipelines, conduit or old tires if they are available. If you are diving during the daylight hours those lobsters are going to be hold up in their little fortresses with their antenna sticking out watching what’s going on outside so you are going to have to look for them. This means taking your light and getting down low in the rocks and debris(on a lobster’s level) and start looking in every hole and crack you can find. If there are lobsters in the area you will find them. Now we come to how you catch one.
If it is nighttime and the lobsters are cruising in the open, just grab the body behind the claws and hold them tight. They cannot spin back on you and bite if you hold them this way. When you grab for one do it fast and right away so they don’t have a chance to react. Once you have hold of them, open your bag and put them in tail first. Lobster swim backwards so as soon as you let go of him he’ll shoot right to the bottom of the bag. Close the bag and look for another one.
If it is daytime and the lobster is in a hole you are going to have to move quickly. The lobster will most likely be facing out towards you where he can put his claws to the best use on your fingers. When you find one in a hole you will need to get into position to thrust your arm into that hole as far it will go on the first shot. Those holes go deep and if he gets ahead of your hand you will lose him. So get into a good position to grab him kind of as if you were going to throw your best punch. The technique is to keep your hand open as wide as it will go and with the tips of your fingers curled slightly down. You are going to throw your hand in there very fast and you don’t want to jam a finger on a rock. As you throw your “Punch” you will want to keep the top of your hand grazing the top of the hole. The theory is that you will get your hand over the top of or behind the lobster before he can get past your hand. Pin the lobster to the bottom of his hole and start to wrangle him out. Move him around a lot and tire him out. Make him use all his strength as he fights you by changing his balance. In less than a minute he’ll just pop out of the hole all worn out. Throw him in the bag and find another.
The claws don’t really hurt if you are wearing gloves unless it is a little one. They have very sharp claws. I don’t even bother with them.
In New York it is illegal to use any kind of stick or noose to capture lobster as a diver. And you are going to need a lobster permit which costs $10 from the NYDEC. You will also need a lobster gauge to measure them to make sure they are of legal size which is 3 1/4” on the carapace. You must use your hands. I have caught hundreds this way and expect to catch many many more.
Oh, and remember when I told you lobsters were territorial. Well, if you catch a large lobster in a hole the chances are great that that is a prime piece of real estate and he fought off other lobsters to get it. If you go back to that hole a few days later there is a good chance that the next guy in line has moved in. There are a lot of underwater hunting resources available at http://www.spearfishingextreme.com
Happy Lobstering.

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