This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book. Special Section Lobster Helpful tips for a successful lobster season

and hoop netter, those who use hoop nets have greater access to more restricted areas where divers might not be able to approach, such as Long Beach Harbor.

As for ideal By Parimal M. Rohit Lobster lovers rejoice! The end of

September is near and that means it is time for lobster season. Harbors, piers, beaches, and the sea will be rather busy Sept. 27, the first official day of lobster season, with recreational and profes- sional hunters alike. While most profes- sional lobster hunters are probably experienced enough to know what they are doing, odds are there will also be relatively inexperienced seekers of the spiny bug come the end of this month. For both the savvy veteran and wet- behind-the-ears novice, here are some pointers to keep in mind when head- ing out onto the pier or into the water in search of lobster. Since lobsters are nocturnal, they spend much of the daytime hiding in kelp or other areas where cover is easy. Lobsters are also social, so odds are if you find one, you will probably come across several nearby. If you are a novice diver, it is best to go with someone who has experience in capturing lobster. According to sev- eral sources, lobsters do a good job of hiding in holes or quickly escaping the grasp of humans if seen in the open. It takes a certain amount of patience to wait for a lobster to become visible enough to catch. Once visible, the hunter needs to be nimble and quick to actually catch and hold onto the lobster. Anyone who prefers to stay above water is best served using a hoop net to catch lobsters. According to Jeff Barnicki, who reg- ularly hunts for lobsters both as a diver

places to look for lobsters, large populations of the spiny bugs are normally found in the South Bay region, including Long Beach

Harbor, Palos Verdes Peninsula, and the Redondo breakwater. The Redondo breakwater and Long

Beach Harbor are ideal for hoop net- ting. Boats are also ideal for hoop net- ting. However, if you are on a shore, hoop netting is not recommended. There is a lot of kelp and lobster-

friendly sea life near Malaga Cove just off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. An area at Malaga Cove known as “The Nursery” is considered a prime spot to hunt for lobster. Located at the north- western-most point of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Malaga Cove is relatively accessible by just about anyone in shape. Accordingly, if a lot of recre- ational lobster hunters show up at Malaga Cove, odds are any lobsters in the immediate vicinity either be cap- tured or driven away pretty quickly. Elsewhere, several locations off

Catalina Island are ripe with lobsters, as are the Channel Islands and the Marina del Rey breakwater. With any location between Santa

Barbara County and the California- Mexico border, be sure to check with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife about restricted areas where capturing lobsters or other wildlife is prohibited. During the beginning of season, lobsters are generally found in shallow waters, within depths of 30 to 40 feet. However, as rain storms occur in the Pacific Ocean or in the Southern California region, lobsters tend to head into deeper waters in order to avoid being caught in heavier currents and stronger waves at the beaches. Accordingly, it is not uncommon to

have to head out into portions of the Pacific Ocean where the depths are 60 to 100 feet in order to find lobsters. Barnicki told FishRap that divers

really should use a boat or hire a char- ter, since the shore often gets “picked clean” by the larger numbers of people who stay along the coast or at harbors and piers. This year, Barnicki believes the

recent swells — courtesy of Hurricane Marie and Hurricane Nester — mean lobsters will be deeper at sea at the start of the season. For those who would prefer to be at a pier or harbor, hoop netting is the way to go. According to state law, hoop netters must specifically use a net, as lobster traps are illegal for recreational lobster hunters. In a conversation Barnicki had with

FishRap he suggested anything smelly is good for bait. The smelly bait should be placed in a jar and closed shut by a lid with poked holes (allowing a lobster to smell the bait). This jar should be placed in the designated area within the hoop net.

Once the hoop net – with bait – is placed into the water, the waiting game begins. Ideally, the hoop net is as far under water as possible and on the sea or harbor floor. A lobster should be able to walk through the hoop entrance and toward the bait inside the net.

When a lobster walks into a hoop net, hope it stays inside. Hoop netters should bring the net to shore and hope any lobster that might have walked into it actually stayed inside. Sometimes the lobster will walk out before a hoop net is fully taken out, but sometimes you might also end up with something else inside, like an octopus or crab. Ultimately, lobster hunting is all about patience. Just remember, it is better to search for lobsters at night instead of during the day. However, if you are “lobstering” during daylight, be sure to search for lobsters in crevices, reef caverns, sponge flats, or anything resembling a hole or hiding area. You will rarely, if ever, see a whole lobster in the open during the day since it is hiding from predators (including us humans). Yet, since California lobsters have long antennae, it is best to look for a pair of dark wires sticking out of a crevice or reef cavern or sponge flat.

Lobster Trivia By Parimal M. Rohit

How much do you know about the bottom-feeder invertebrates? Below are some fun facts about those shelled creatures.

It is more scared of you than

you are of it Does it come as any surprise that among the common predators to lob- sters are humans? While there are cer- tainly many humans who enjoy or make a living out of lobster hunting, there are also many other natural predators to the bottom-feeder invertebrates, includ- ing: giant sea bass; horn shark; leopard shark; sea otters; octopus; cabezon and California sheephead.

Age is nothing but a number According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, while there is no way to accurately determine the life expectancy of lobsters, a spiny lobster is believed to live for at least 50 years. In 2009, a 140 year old clawed lobster was reportedly discovered in Maine.

Have no fear, the clawless

California lobster is here It is interesting to note that California lobsters are different than the inverte- brate sea bugs found in New England. Specifically, the California spiny lobster is found along the Pacific Ocean between Point Conception and the West Coast of Baja California. Instead of claws, long and durable antennae are found at the front of spiny lobsters. Across the country, lobsters caught

off the coast of Maine have large claws that serve as a defense mechanism. Here in California, spiny lobsters use their “spiny” exterior to defend against predators. Clawed lobsters thrive in cold cli-

mate water typical of New England, while spiny lobsters are found in warmer water.


The Log • September 12 - 25, 2014 • 47

California Department of Fish & Wildlife photo

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