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Captain’s Log: Lobster Season

There are many ways to catch and savor lobster, including landing the delectable critter yourself.

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Hunting for lobster must be done by hand, and catching them is not easy. (Capt. David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

Want to catch a lobster? Want to wrestle the beast and bring home dinner? Lobster season opens this weekend, and plenty of adventurous souls will be on or in the water, hoop netting or diving. Throughout our coastal communities, folks will be dining on delectable local spiny lobsters. Yummy!

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Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
Hoop netting is done primarily from boats, although hoops can be tossed from piers and rocks. The prime activity is at night. Hoop nets can be bought at local fishing tackle shops. Hoop netters bait the hoops with mackerel or other fish, deploy them near structure spots on the seafloor and pull them regularly to harvest lobster, rebait and redeploy the hoops.

A lobster diving trip is an opportunity to get underwater and experience the ocean environment up close and personal. Once immersed in the underwater world of the lobster, you will no doubt find many other critters to enjoy, as well as seascapes and strange wonderful plant life.

First, you should become a certified scuba diver. Local dive shops can get you into a class you can complete long before lobster season ends. You will have fun in the class and learn a lot about yourself, as well as about dive equipment and the sea. After becoming certified, you can buy your own gear, or rent. I recommend renting, until you develop a feel for which types and brands of equipment you prefer.

Then make plans to go out on a large open-party sport dive boat, a private charter boat, or tag along with a friend on a private boat. You can even wade out into the water from the beach, after hauling your gear to a beach spot in close proximity to underwater reefs or wrecks. Always dive with a buddy, for safety reasons.

Lobsters are found in good numbers in surprisingly shallow water in the early season. When working around shoreline reefs, successful hunters often find themselves in less than 6 feet of water. Watch the swells and waves because the surf zone can be treacherous.

Shallow rocky terrain around our islands are favored destinations on lobster diving trips; however, plenty of “bugs” are caught along our mainland coast. Wherever you go lobster hunting, you will soon learn that catching those quick l’il varmints is not easy. Hunting must be done by hand, which shifts the advantage to the lobsters. If you’ve tasted lobster, you know that the reward is definitely worth the effort. Besides, it is fun!

Do you love lobster but prefer that others do the catching? The Saturday morning Santa Barbara Fishermen’s Market is the perfect place to buy fresh lobster, right from the commercial boats they were caught from. The market opens at 7 a.m. each Saturday at the navy pier in the Santa Barbara Harbor. Local lobsters also find their way into our fish markets, and into some of our great restaurants.

Another opportunity is the Oct. 11 Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival. Come hungry and prepared to delight your palate with varied tasty treats from the sea.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

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