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Spiny Lobster Season

Spiny Lobster Season

California Spiny Lobster
Department of Fish & Game
3883 Ruffin Rd
San Diego, CA 92123
Oct. 1, 2011 - March 21, 2012

Spiny Lobster Season Information

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Learn more about Spiny Lobster Season...

The California spiny lobster is a species of lobster found in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Monterey Bay, California to the Gulf of Tehuantepec, Mexico. Among the more than 40 species of spiny lobsters known worldwide, the California spiny lobster is one of the largest. Males can reach three feet long and weigh up to 26 pounds. Unlike the East Coast lobsters, the California spiny lobster lacks large front claws.

California Laws

  • Any person who is 16 years of age or older must possess his or her own fishing license when taking any fish, shell fish, reptile, or amphibian in California.
  • It is required for all individuals (even those under 16) taking spiny lobster to possess and fill out a Spiny Lobster Report Card.
  • Skin and scuba divers may only use bare (or gloved) hands to take lobster.
  • No fish spears, short hooked poles, or similar appliances may be used to remove lobsters from crevices and caves. Baited hoop nets may also be used to take lobster.
  • All lobster must be measured in the water and released unharmed if under sized.
  • Each harvester must have a gauge made for measuring lobster while harvesting in the water.
  • All recreationally harvested lobster must remain in whole condition while at sea.
  • It is an offense to spear California Spiny Lobster.
  • The recreational fishery for lobster runs from early October through mid-March, same as the commercial season. The closed season protects eggcarrying females and molting lobsters.
  • Legal size lobster must measure 3.25 inches in length, and are measured in a straight line on the mid-line of the carapace (or body shell) from the rear edge of the the eye socket to the rear edge of the carapace.
  • All divers must have with them a fixed measure gauge while in the water.
  • It is illegal for recreational fishers to sell their catch.
  • Spiny lobster traps can only be used by the holder of a commercial license. Sport harvesters may also use up to five hoop nets to take lobster (no more than 10 per vessel regardless of number of people aboard). Hoop nets are defined in the Department of Fish and Game's regulations.
  • A bag limit of 7 Spiny lobster per person per day (regardless of how taken).
  • A snare is not a permitted device.
  • Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards from shore, respectively. The law now provides for a minimum $250 fine for fishing without a license.

Catching Spiny Lobster
Spiny lobsters can be found near the shoreline or out in deeper water, you can use snorkel or scuba gear to find them. The Spiny Lobster can be caught with simple equipment found at almost any tackle store along the coast. Basic equipment includes:

  • Divers may take lobsters by hand only
  • A mesh bag to keep the lobster in once they have been caught,
  • Gloves to protect your hands from the spines of the lobster,
  • A net to catch the lobster, and finally,
  • A measuring gauge to make sure the lobster is large enough to keep.

Where to Catch Spiny Lobster
California spiny lobster season runs from the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October, to the first Wednesday after the 15th of March. Adult spiny lobsters make their homes in crevices and caverns of coral reefs, sponge flats, old barrels, and almost any structure where something could hide. Lobsters stay in their dens during daylight hours to avoid predators, and come out a couple of hours after dark to look for food. If you are hunting during the day, they'll be hiding in these places, so look around. You usually won't be able to see the whole lobster, but will usually see a pair of antennae poking out. Most likely, if you spot one pair on antennae, you'll see more!

Fish Markets & Restaurants
El Pescador Fish Market | La Jolla
Open daily 10:00am to 8:00pm
Their fish market offers a vast array of seafood depending on the season: Snapper, Local Sword, Hawaiian Ahi Tuna, Local Sea Bass, Scottish Salmon, Wild Alaskan Salmon, Local Red Rock Cod, Oysters, Bluefin Tuna, and more.
Point Loma Seafoods | Point Loma
Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6:30pm and Sunday 11am to 6:30pm
During the months from October thru March, their locally caught California Spiny Lobster is available. They have no claws, however the tail meat is firm, sweet, delicate and mild. These crustations are sought after from all around the world.
Sportsmen's Seafoods | Mission Bay
Open Monday to Friday 11am to 8pm and Saturday to Sunday 11am to 8:30pm
Their family guarded marinade recipies and smoking technique are the secret ingredients you can't find anywhere else. Most offerings on their menu are homemade family recipes and they only use the finest ingredients including cholesterol free oil.
The Fish Market | Downtown
Open daily 11am to 10pm
This waterfront landmark in downtown San Diego is recognized as the premier destination for seafood and San Diego bay views.
The Fishery | Pacific Beach
Open daily 11am to 10pm, Market open 10am to 8pm
he Fishery showcases a premier seafood market at the center of the restaurant and an open kitchen off to one side. Under Chef Paul Arias the menu is market driven and changes with the seasons.

Spiny Lobster Season Map