With a half-moon lighting the calm surf, Joseph Ali figured it was the perfect time for a little lobster hunting off the end of the Huntington Beach Pier.
After more than an hour free-diving through the barnacle-covered pilings, the Huntington Beach resident came to the surface hugging a nearly 18-pound monster.
"It's the biggest lobster I've caught in my life," he said of the spiny beast.
For Ali, 27, going out alone in the 53-degree water to hunt among the pilings was all in a night’s work.
After first bagging four regulation-size lobsters Monday evening, Ali said, he noticed what he thought might be part of the pier.
But when he took a closer look, he knew it was a king-size lobster. So he kicked back to the surface and prepared for the grab.
"I took a couple deep breaths and then bam, straight for the hole, and I grabbed him with one hand," he said.
As Ali latched on with his left hand, he found that the 26-inch-long lobster wasn't going to be taken without a fight.
"When I gabbed him from the top of his head, he bucked into my face so my mask came off," Ali said. "I had to drop my light, and I had to grab him with my body and swim him to the top."
Bear-hugging the creature as he swam to the surface, Ali said the lobster dug into his wet suit. With his mask gone and abrasions on his hands, he said he wrestled the “bug” into his catch bag and headed home.
When he showed his catch to his family, Ali said his mother wasn’t sure she had a pot big enough to cook the crustacean.
According to the California Department of Fish and Game website, a lobster more than 5 pounds is considered trophy size.
Ali said he is unconcerned about trophies. Though he is looking forward to a huge lobster dinner.
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