One of the most exciting times of the year for seafood lovers is Florida’s incredible eight-month lobster season. Running from August 6, 2023, to March 31, 2024, recreational divers and snorkelers can go 'bug hunting' in several coastal locations, including three cities in Greater Fort Lauderdale. In order for everyone under the sun to have the best experience possible, here’s a traveler’s guide to lobster season in Greater Fort Lauderdale.
Before You Hunt
Due to annual catch limits, bag limits, and other harvesting prohibitions, wild-caught Caribbean spiny lobster (also known as Florida lobster or “bug”) is a sustainable and responsible choice for your next indulgent meal in Greater Fort Lauderdale. But, if you’re more into the thrill of the (bug) hunt, here are some rules from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission before you embark on an underwater adventure off our shores:
- To harvest spiny lobster, a recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit are required.
- Recreational trapping and spearfishing are both prohibited.
- The daily bag limit is 6 per person.
- You must carry a measuring device at all times to adhere to size specifications.
- Lobsters must be landed in whole condition (separating the tail and body is a big no-no).
- Hands off egg-bearing spiny lobster.
With these rules in mind, you also need the right gear to get started! All that you need is a dive flag to let others know where you are, a mask to see underwater, a “tickle stick” to nudge lobsters out of their holes, a net to catch them, and gloves to handle them (they’re called spiny lobsters for a reason). But don’t fret! Simple lobster kits are easy to find and include these essential items.
Where to Hunt
Since spiny lobsters inhabit tropical and subtropical waters, you can usually find them in offshore reefs, specifically in Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. During lobster season, local dive shops, charter boats, and other businesses cater to residents and visitors alike seeking to partake in this exciting activity. Since Broward County allows night diving, shore diving, and boat diving for spiny lobsters, there are plenty of opportunities to haul away this tasty crustacean.
Known for its offshore reefs and underwater wrecks, Deerfield Beach is a lobster season favorite. If you’re an open-water diver, head to the Angel Reef/Separated Rocks dive site for a chance at a great haul. Ant Beds on the outer reef is another prime spot, where the east side of the reef might prove the luckiest. And Crab Cove’s undercut ledges make it an optimal site to catch a clawed critter.
With numerous dive sites to choose from, Pompano Beach is another perfect destination to go bug hunting. Pompano Trench features excellent scenery with an outside ledge that has good lobster crevices. Meanwhile, at the Pompano Drop Off site, you can navigate along the western holes and ledges for your best chance at catching lobster. Pompano 3rd Reef’s outside ledges have good lobster crevices when bugs are deep. Steve’s Twin Ledges, located just south of the Fisher Family Pier, is another prime spot for lobstering (especially during the July mini-season). Other popular sites include Abbey Too, Labontee Reef, Lighthouse Ledge, and Lost Ledge.
Known as Florida’s beach diving capital, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea welcomes everyone to get out on the water and have some fun during lobster season. Beaches are open from sunrise to sunset, with several dive shops in the area offering equipment rentals and charter boat rides for an easy day of lobstering. But if you'd rather stay closer to shore, you can always spend the day snorkeling! Lauderdale-By-The-Sea’s coral reef is only 100 yards from the coast and an excellent place to spot tropical fish, corals, sponges, and, of course, lobster.
After Your Hunt
Now, for our favorite part, eating lobster! After hauling in your fresh catch, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it. Whether you boil it, broil it, or grill it, we recommend dipping the juicy, tender lobster meat in melted butter and pairing it with a side of corn and potatoes.
While lobstering is a unique and exciting way for everyone under the sun to spend time in Greater Fort Lauderdale, you must always adhere to Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission regulations to ensure the sustainability of Florida’s spiny lobster population. Now, get out there and make a splash.