California lobster recreational season is scheduled to begin on Saturday, October 2, 2021 at 6 a.m. and run through March 16, 2022. Last year’s season has been particularly active, likely driven by residents looking for of outdoor activity opportunities during COVID-19 lockdowns.
“We had a record number of sales of lobster report cards during the 2020-2021 lobster fishing season,” said Jenny Hofmeister, marine environment scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife ( CDFW). “Typically around 33,000 ballots are purchased each season, but almost 46,000 were purchased last season. More than half of them were new lobster hunters.
The season opening weekend is one of the busiest times on the water, as thousands of lobster and hoop net divers flock to their favorite lobster fishing spot. Before you get out on the water, make sure you know all the applicable regulations.
“No one can attempt to catch lobster before 6 am on October 2. This includes baiting your hoop net or grabbing the lobsters with your hand before 6 am,” said CDFW captain Eric Kord. “With a sunrise around 6:45 am on the morning of the opening, that means there will be a very short window of time to legally catch lobster in the dark, when most of the lobsters are out.”
A lobster report card is required for all people who fish for lobster, and people 16 years of age or older must have a valid sport fishing license and oceans enhancement stamp. Gillnetters and divers must fill in the date, location and type of gear just before fishing. When you have finished fishing, or when you change location or gear type, you should immediately record the number of lobsters kept there. Last season, over 54,000 lobster trips were reported, with an average catch of about two lobsters retained per trip. This average has remained relatively stable since 2008. Almost half of reported trips took place in the first month of the season, and eight percent of all reported trips took place on opening day, divers and the gillnetters retaining nearly 11,000 lobsters.
Lobster reporting sheets must be returned or submitted online to CDFW at the end of each season by April 30, regardless of whether the sheet has been used or if lobsters have been caught. If you are completing one lobster reporting sheet, you can purchase another, but you must report the catches on each sheet you purchase. Failure to report all lobster report cards by the reporting deadline will result in a non-report fee of $ 21.60 when purchasing a lobster report card next season.
Lobster Report Cards can be purchased online. Newsletters cannot be printed at home, which is why the CDFW recommends waiting 15 days for the newsletter to reach you in the mail. Alternatively, lobster report cards can be purchased at participating sporting goods stores and other licensed licensing agents.
The daily bag and possession limit for lobster is seven. Any lobster kept must be at least 3¼ inches long, measured in a straight line on the center line of the back, from the trailing edge of the eye socket to the trailing edge of the shell. . Anyone who catches lobster must have a measuring device capable of accurately determining the legal length. A diagram illustrating this can be found on the CDFW website.
Lobster can only be fished with hoop nets or by hand. No other device (such as spears or poles) may be used. A person cannot own more than five hoop nets when taking lobster or crab from a boat, and no more than 10 hoop nets can be owned on board a vessel, regardless of the number. people on board. When using hoop nets on piers, jetties, or other shore structures, only two hoop nets can be used.
When fishing for lobster, check out the Ocean Sport Fishing interactive web map of the California Coast to make sure you’re not fishing in restricted waters.
“It is extremely important that fishermen know the location and regulations of each Marine Protected Area (MPA) near where they will be fishing,” said Captain Kord. “Unfortunately, every year many citations are issued to lobster fishermen, divers and hoop nets alike, for illegal capture in an MPA.”
The complete lobster regulations are contained in the 2021-2022 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. Further information on California lobster biology, fisheries and management is available on the CDFW Marine Species Portal.