Many anglers do enjoy catching lobsters. This represents a whole new realm with its unique challenges and prizes. And some fellow anglers have been going for lobsters occasionally, but I wasn’t really into that until later when a friend of mine asked me to go “lobster hunting” with him.
So, I got curious and decided to do a little research. Anglers often use boats to go lobster fishing, But I wanted to know if I can catch lobsters from the shore, or was a fishing boat a necessary ingredient?
Can you catch lobsters from the shore? Fishermen can catch lobsters from the shore, including shore-based structures like jetties and piers, by using a hoop net. Another way to capture lobsters is by diving or snorkeling out and catch the lobsters by hand. In California, using snares and tickle sticks are not allowed to catch spiny lobsters.
When it comes down to lobster fishing, I found out, there are a lot of little details and information you need to know in advance. So, let’s take a look.
How to Catch Lobsters from The Shore?
This is the most common recreational way of lobster fishing.
This is done by going to and diving or snorkeling in the areas where lobsters hide. Most of the anglers do that by renting a boat, but it can potentially be done by diving from the shore.
Another way to catch lobsters is by hoop netting. You can do this when you’re in a shore base structures such as jetties and piers. By the rules, you can use 2 hoop nets when fishing in the dock.
So technically we can argue that catching lobsters from the shore is possible. There are specific regulations and caveats to catching lobsters for recreational purposes, so now, let’s take a look at this in more detail.
Where Can You Find Lobsters?
To improve your chances of catching lobsters, you need to understand better their natural habitat, where they like to live and hide.
Your whereabouts matters a lot when it comes to catching lobsters. There are two main types of lobsters that anglers usually catch.
- Clawed lobsters: they inhabit colder water regions;
- Spiny lobsters: they inhabit warmer water regions;
Lobsters are actually night-loving creatures, so they are most active during the night. They are also bottom dwellers. During the daytime, they prefer to hide in places with a lot of underwater structure: rocky crevices, ledges, and piles, reefs, holes, kelp, and other types of seaweed.
They may not always be easy to find, especially in murky waters.
In some instances, you may be able to spot their antennas sticking out from underneath the rocks, but that may not always be the case.
Another exciting thing I discovered is that lobsters are also very social. And what that means for us is that where there is one, the chances are there will be more.
Smaller and medium-sized lobsters are usually found in places with lots of structures near the shore. The bigger lobsters can be found in offshore and deeper waters.
Interestingly enough, usually inshore lobsters do not travel a lot and mostly spend their time in one place. But, conversely, the spiny lobsters can migrate to avoid the cold water.
How Deep Do Lobsters Live?
When hunting for the spiny lobsters on the west coast, and in California in particular, they may be found anywhere between 13.1 feet to 90 feet.
Lobsters can also be found in depths up to 200 feet.
During the winter, they may go more in-depth and further into the ocean.
And the extreme depths pose some difficulties. This is why fishermen use boats and traps to capture lobsters that are further into the water.
Do You Need a License to Catch Lobsters?
The short answer is going to be, yes, you need a license to fish for lobsters. In California, a spiny lobster report card is also required for every person catching a spiny lobster.
Make sure to do a quick research and confirm what you need with your local authorities. I recommend applying for the permit first before you do anything else, especially before buying your gear.
What Equipment Do You Need to Catch Lobsters?
Since you will be diving at relatively low depths, you will need some basic diving and snorkeling equipment. The good thing about snorkeling is that it doesn’t require much equipment.
The essential equipment you need is:
- Dive Bag
- Fishing License
- Lobster report card
- Wetsuit (optional).
Also, you may want to have some heavy-duty protective gloves on when catching lobsters by hand, as they can get really mean. And don’t forget about the lobster measuring tool to measure your catch.
Is There a Limit to How Many Lobsters You Can Catch?
In California, the spiny lobster is a species that a lot of people are interested in catching for both recreational and commercial purposes.
There is a limit on how many lobsters you can catch. And the numbers will vary a lot depending on your location.
While I was doing my research about lobster fishing here in California, I found out that the number was seven lobsters per person.
I’ve been told that usually, the numbers are in the range of 6 to 8 lobsters per person. So, make sure you confirm that with your local regulations.
Additionally, there are more regulations concerning the time of day, number of lobster nets, if any are allowed at all.
There may be certain off-limits areas, and there are frequently minimum lobster size regulations, so you may need to keep these in mind too. Make sure to do your research before heading out lobster fishing.
Is Nighttime a Good Time to Catch Lobster from the Shore?
When Can You Catch Lobsters?
There is an established “lobster season” during which is allowed to catch lobsters, and as you will find out, there is a good reason why lobster lovers are so eager for the end of the year to come.
This recreational lobster season will vary greatly depending on where you will be catching them.
- I am mostly fishing in California. And the lobster season here is usually between October and March.
- In Florida, the lobster season is usually between August and March (but there is also a two-day mini-season).
These, of course, are some general guidelines.
The actual dates and even months can vary from year to year. I recommend always double-checking that with your local authorities for the exact dates.
Can You Catch Lobsters from the Shore with a Fishing Rod?
Catching lobsters from the shore would mean the use of a fishing rod.
A lot of the anglers that are into catching fish will have the same question as me, “Can you catch lobsters with a fishing rod?”
And although it can be done and some people do it, fishing for lobsters with a fishing rod is, in fact, illegal. If you happen to hook a lobster when fishing, it has to be returned immediately to the sea.
There is a lot of debate around the topic and the actual reasons behind that. And many anglers are not happy as lobsters are known to be somewhat greedy and good at snatching bait.
However, the rules are the rules. I would not recommend doing that as the fines are steep.
Can You Use Traps and Nets to Catch Lobsters from the Shore?
With the fishing rods out of the way now, let’s take a look at trap-usage.
Indeed, a lot of fishermen do use lobster traps (also known as lobster pots) to catch the little bugs. However, these are mostly used for commercial lobster fishing in deep water.
If you’re sport fishermen, under California law, you cannot use traps or nets to catch spiny lobster. You may have better chances of using a hoop net, which is allowed.
Catching these little bugs can be a lot of fun. Well, to be honest, maybe they are not that small. After all, the spiny lobster that we can catch here in California has been known to reach three and even four feet in length and more than 20 pounds in weight.
Many people like the sweet flavor and tenderness of the lobster meat, so it is only natural to consider catching a few of these fellows. If you are eager to try finding a few, make sure to adhere to your local regulations first.