Great news that our local recreational lobster season begins Saturday, and I cannot wait to see lobsters being delivered on my doorstep. Yes, I do take bribes. Panulirus interruptus is the species of clawless lobster in our coastal waters, which are slightly smaller than the East Coast Maine lobsters that have claws.
The recreational season for the California spiny lobsters runs from the Saturday proceeding the first Wednesday in October until the first Wednesday after March 15. This season's dates are Saturday through Wednesday, March 20.
If you plan to go lobster hunting then follow the rules or a visit by a Department of Fish and Game officer will ruin your day. Thus, I have an overview of the regulations for the recreational fishermen or divers, and remember the regulations are slightly different then the rules for the commercial guys.
First and foremost, you have to possess a current fishing license, the lobster report card and a lobster gauge. Missing any one of these items can result in a DFG fine.
Remember, that you can only catch lobsters by hand or with a hoop net, and the minimum size is 3.25 inches measured in a straight line on the midline of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell. You can bring a lobster to the surface for measuring, but by no means can an undersized lobster be brought aboard any boat. Thus, you must measure immediately, and all shorties (term for undersize lobsters) must be released immediately into the water.
Additionally, all spiny lobsters that you keep shall be kept whole so they can be measured until you are ready to prepare the critter to eat. California Fish and Game Code Section 5508 says, "It is unlawful to possess on any boat or bring ashore any fish upon which a size or weight limit is prescribed in such a condition that the size or weight cannot be determined. Separating the tail from the carapace (body) makes it impossible to determine if the lobster was of legal size, so the animal must remain whole until you are ready to cook it. If cooking for immediate consumption while at sea, retain the carapace until the tail is consumed."
By no means can a recreational fisherman use any traps or tickle sticks to help capture lobsters. If you catch a lobster on your hook while fishing then you must immediately return the bug to the water.
If you use hoop nets off a boat then only five baited hoop nets may used by one person, and no more than 10 baited hoop nets off of any vessel. You may only use two hoop nets when you are fishing off a public pier. The daily bag and possession is seven lobsters per person, and this means seven total including what you might have at home in your freezer. So legally, you cannot catch more lobsters until the first limit is disposed of for example by eating, giving away to your friends or dropping off at my house.
DFG has a very helpful lobster information card at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=36321&inline=true.
Tip of the week is if you want to view and step aboard luxurious yachts then head over to the 34th annual Lido Yacht Expo this weekend. This boat show has earned the reputation as the West's ultimate fall "big boat" show, and the expo is produced exclusively for the big boat market by featuring boats 26 feet and longer. Some boats on display will be seen for the very first time at a boat show in California or on the West Coast, and you will be able to see new models plus brokerage boats.
The show is at the Lido Marina Village with more than 400,000 square feet of floating docks comprising of boat dealers and exhibitors of marine related stuff. Make sure you stop by and say hi to JR Means with Bayport Yachts, and step aboard the 80-foot Ocean Alexander shown by Orange Coast Yachts.
The Lido Yacht Expo will be open until 7 p.m. Friday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Expo admission is $15 for adults and free for children 12 and younger.
Keep in mind that the expo offers free parking and shuttle service that alleviates the peninsula parking hassle and potentially a parking meter ticket. Visit http://www.lidoyachtexpo.com for more information and to buy tickets.
And don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead's "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replayed at 10 a.m. Sundays.
MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.boathousetv.com.