Spiny Lobsters in La Jolla San Diego

Lobster Diving in La Jolla

Not too many things exist in the culinary world that are more desirable than a fresh, perfectly cooked lobster. If you live in or near La Jolla, you have a chance to have your lobster extremely fresh by catching it yourself.

Every fall, lobster fishing season starts in San Diego. This gives ordinary folks the chance to channel their inner seaman and take to the water’s depths for a tasty reward. However, fishing for the Spiny Lobster that resides off the shores of San Diego isn't as simple as heaving a net in the water from a boat or kayak and seeing what you catch.

Lobster fishing – or lobster diving as it’s often called – has strict regulations which are important to learn in order to avoid hefty fines. Don’t fret, if you follow the guidelines outlined below courtesy of La Jolla Blue Book, you should be just fine. Enjoy your lobster dive!

1. Need to apply for a fishing license. You must get one with an Ocean Enhancement Validation on it and you must keep your license close by when diving, either on the boat you’re diving from or with your gear on land, which must be within 500 yards from the shore where you’re lobster diving. Fishing licenses for California residents are $45.93 plus an additional $5.14 for the Ocean Enhancement Validation.

2. Need a Report Card. A bit like school, you need a Spiny Lobster report card and you also must be kept on the boat or the shore (within 500 feet of entry point) from which you are entering the water to fish from. The report card must be filled out and submitted by January 31 of the following year to help the California Department of Fish and Wildlife better understand the depth of lobsters caught for recreation. Spiny Lobster report cards cost under $10.

3. Must Intend to Eat Trapped Lobsters. Getting the license doesn't mean the sport can be done just for the fun of it, though. A lobster that is caught must be with the intention of eating it. The lobster needs to be kept alive in a whole, measurable condition until ready to be cooked for immediate consumption. In other words, treat the lobster kindly while it’s on death row and plan on eating it shortly after catching it.

4. Only Adult Lobsters of a Certain Size Can Be Kept. In addition, you can't just catch any lobster. Those little lobster babies you may see need a chance to grow and produce offspring. Therefore, you must lobster fish with a measuring gauge tool and you need to determine before getting out of the water if the lobster is big enough to catch. The lobster must be 3 ¼ inches from one end of its body shell (the carapace) to the other end. To accurately measure the carapace, measure from the rear edge of the lobster’s eye sockets to the rear end of the carapace, which ends right before the tail begins. You can buy the gauge at most dive and tackle shops, and the tool will be already marked with a 3 ¼ length gap, making it easy to measure. You can bring the lobster to the surface to measure, but cannot take it onto a boat or to shore to measure. If you find the lobster is smaller than the gauge, you must immediately release the lobster back into the water. You’ll face heavy fines if caught with lobsters too small.

5. Must Catch Lobsters by Hand. When lobster diving, you only have one option for how to catch the lobster – your hands. If this makes you a bit nervous, invest in some diving gloves. They’ll protect your hands from the lobster’s shell and claws, plus will keep your hands warm in the often chilly Pacific waters off the La Jolla coast.

6. Maximum of 7 Lobsters At One Time. When catching lobsters, also keep in mind that you can’t catch more than seven or have more than seven lobsters in your possession (including at home) at any one time. This means if you caught three lobsters on Saturday and haven’t eaten them yet, then when lobster diving on Sunday you can’t catch more than four. And you’ll have to eat them before diving for lobsters again.

7. How to Prepare Your Lobsters Once you get your lobster home, get ready for a feast. Spiny Lobster can be cooked several different ways. Grilling the Spiny Lobster on a bbq grill is an excellent way to bring out the flavor, though you must be careful not to overcook as it will give the lobster a rubbery texture. Plus, grilling is always a fun way of cooking in Southern California thanks to the pleasant weather. When grilling, cook the lobster plain or try marinating it in a lemon pepper sauce first for added flavor. You can also boil the lobster tails, which helps make them moist and tender. Serve alongside a rich butter sauce. If you love a good sandwich or taco, try deep-frying the lobster and turning it into a po’ boy lobster sandwich or a lobster taco; add avocado slices for extra flavor. If you need some tips for how to prepare your lobster or if you just want to enjoy a lobster without having to catch it yourself, there are many La Jolla restaurants that serve up some of the best Seafood in San Diego.