Mini season is upon us, and many of our local lobster enthusiasts are busy making plans for the best way to catch some “bugs.”
Florida’s lobster sport season takes place on Wednesday July 26 and Thursday July 27, 2017. During mini season, recreational divers and snorkelers, with a Florida saltwater fishing license and a current spiny lobster permit, can catch their own Florida lobster (following the strict size and quantity limits).
The two-day event has become a tradition for many local families, who travel to the Keys for what is considered the best lobstering around. Marco Island residentsLori and Alex Galiana have made mini season a family tradition for 16 years, with their sons AJ, 27 and Max, 24. Despite describing a rough 2016 mini season of “horrible storms, visibility and undersized lobsters,” Alex and Lori will give it another try this year with friends, returning to Marathon in the Middle Keys.
Bonnie and Scott Gibbs, the owners of Cocomo’s Grill on Marco Island, have also enjoyed many years of mini season in the Keys. One year they brought their young nephew, Jesse Parker from Centerville, Pennsylvania to join them in Islamorada. Jesse excelled,and was quickly nicknamed “L.A.,” for being a “lobster assassin!” Although last year was discouraging, mini season this year has not been ruled out for Scott.
Marco Island Police Officer Hector Diaz is a mini season regular. His prediction for this year is a positive one: “I think this season is going to be a really good season. Last year the tides in a moon where not lined up correctly, but this Wednesday and Thursday should be really good mini season.”
If you plan on enjoying lobster mini season and making some memories of your own, remember thatthere are limits to the amount of lobster you can take home. In Monroe County and Biscayne National Park the limit is six lobsters, per person, per day. In the rest of the state the limit is 12 lobsters, per person, per day. The size requirement is greater than a 3-inch carapace (upper body shell), which is measured in the water. Divers are required to use a measuring gauge. Egg bearing lobster must be released.
Penalties are stiff for violators, and include fines and jail time. Know the rules before you go and follow them. For more information go to www.myfwc.com/fishing/ saltwater/recreational/lobster.