The idea of catching lobsters Southern California style has intrigued me for a while now. The season opened about two weeks ago. Last night I gave it a go with a friend who also had never been.
The plot is pretty simple. Take a circular hoop up to 36″ in diameter, add a net below it, attach a line with a float, put some bait in, lower it to the bottom, wait and then hopefully pull it back up with lobsters in it. The nets are known as “hoop nets” and the process is knows as “hooping” in local vernacular.
Where do we drop them? What is the best bait? How long to we leave them in the water? We had a lot of questions as we left the dock. We has awesome weather, so at least it would be a nice night. There were a lot of kayaks out and a couple of other boats. It was a Tuesday night, so I can’t imagine how crowded it could be on a weekend night.
We baited the traps with Salmon heads Kenney got from a local seafood company. A known good bait. We had heard that near the break walls and jetty are a good place to try, so that is where we started.
Put the salmon head in the net, check the light stick, lower the net to the bottom so that it will “sit right”, put the float/buoy in and head to the next spot. We set five hoop nets and then headed back to the first one.
How long do we let the nets soak? Since we didn’t know, we elected to go with “one beer and then pull them up”.
The first pull was exciting. We got it to the surface and there were lobsters! They looked big too. Per DFG law, we needed to have a lobster gauge to check the size. They were all too small.
Off to the next net. Similar story. We started to feel like we were getting good at this.
The next two pots were empty. We think they weren’t set right. The fourth pot has our winner. Of the three in there, one was legal!
After that, all we got were short bugs. We had a couple of nets drag and one got sucked into the surf, so we lost it. We fed a couple of seals. It is not nice get near you pot ready to pull and see a seal pop up. When you pull you net and there is no bait left, you know you just got robbed. The current did a number on a couple of the sets where they were dragged pretty good. No lobsters in those.
We even got a courtesy safety check from the Coasties. Good to see those guys out there helping to keep everyone safe.
All in all, it was a good learning night and fun. It was not a great haul of lobsters, but I think we will do better in the future.