2018 Mini Lobster Season in the Florida Keys - need help for the kiddos! - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 04-28-2018, 05:12 PM   #1
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Default 2018 Mini Lobster Season in the Florida Keys - need help for the kiddos!

Hey yall, I got my two sons (13 and 11) certified to scuba dive last summer. So their first official on our own dive was last summer on Sombrero Reef. They loved it. So this summer as a surprise my wife and I are taking them down to Marathon Key for the Mini Season. We are going for the week trailering our own boat down there and have a house gulf side with dock. The boys are very outdoors water type kids. So we thought it would be a perfect time to teach them about lobstering. They are going to lose their minds when they see you can dive, snorkel and find lobster. As much as they love fishing this is the next step for them. My wife doesn't dive and will be a bubble watcher or I will snorkel for them. So, therefore, we are wanting to stay in like 15' or less of water. Maybe 20. This way she can watch if she chooses to snorkel while we are deeper. As the dad, I am wanting to make this trip as epic as I can before they head back to school. Which is why I am here asking for tips or any sort. We go down there every year to fish and snorkel in the Marathon Key area so I am familiar with the area but not for lobstering this will be new to us all. I have been reading over and over till my eyes are tired. So I figured I would revert to experience.
1 - what side is better the Atlantic or gulf side
2 - times of day better than others or tide changing or it doesn't matter
3 - prefer a tickle stick and net or tickle stick and that gadget stick with a loop on the end
4 - I found plans to make a snorkel sled planer type thing so maybe two or three days before the season opens we can drive around and try to prospect for spots. So I think I am gonna make one. The bad or good idea with the sled
5 - I have seen online that obviously, you can buy lobster numbers for 99$, are the numbers worth it. I was thinking it would at least get me in the right areas even if they were crowded areas.
6 - what type of carrying device do you use to carry the caught lobster around in. a bag or one of those tubes with a net at the end I have seen.
7 - I read SeaLarks advice, actually a lot of his advice I read cause it seems like he has all the experience for sure, on a freezer to get them home and that seems very doable since I will have my truck for sure. I'm glad to hear don't freeze them in water cause that was one method my wife heard to do.
8 - my last question and most touchy one I know.......does anyone have any numbers for areas down there that they would share. I fully understand this is a touchy subject but just asking in case there is someone who thinks similar to me anyhow. Just want to do whatever I can to make this first lobster trip for the boys epic! I am willing to share all the numbers I have for fishing in that area of the keys with you if that helps show my attitude towards the friendship of the sport.

thanks for whatever advice or help you can spare, Tom
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Old 04-28-2018, 05:22 PM   #2
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Don't know how it is now, but when I lived on sugarloaf key we caught all we could in our back yard canal. We did the flats on the gulf side for conchs also, but that's out now!

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Old 04-28-2018, 05:28 PM   #3
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Default 2018 Mini Lobster Season in the Florida Keys - need help for the kiddos!

1 - make sure your trailer and tires and bearings are in top notch shape. That's a long way to trailer a boat and you don't want that trouble.

2- make sure your kids are very very comfortable diving and with all their equipment before you add in any extra elements like lobster gear or spear fishing etc. definitely do some local dives with the extra get before the big trip to get them acquainted with it all.

3- if you are diving near any of the bridges really watch the tides. The current rips through there like you would not believe.

4- I dive for the shovelnose here in Pensacola. The best, least cumbersome thing I have found is a homemade lobster hotel. Get one of those yellow bait buckets with the hinged black plastic door with the holes in it. Saw off the bottom of the bucket (the white part.) Drill holes around it and see a heavy duty laundry bag around the bucket. You just shove them in the black door and it's a one way valve into the laundry bag. Not much drag to carry around.

I can't help with spots, I mainly dove Atlantic side when I was there and saw them pretty much everywhere. They were out of season though. Have fun and good luck!

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Old 04-28-2018, 05:38 PM   #4
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Either side. Just stop where everyone else is stopped. I snorkel so we have a system we usually stay in 12' or less. We have a fee spots we always try first. Grass flats and long lost artificial. Then we put out two ski ropes and idle along with 2 people looking for fishy spots on the end of the ski ropes. As others said watch the tides. Bridge piling/piers are good spots also as well as rip rap. Diving u should easily limit out. Good luck. I will miss this mini season..
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Old 04-28-2018, 05:43 PM   #5
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We go out of Big Pine or Little Torch every year. I have no advice for Marathon. With mini starting at 12:01 am wed. you better go early. Last year we showed up at our usual area a little before daylight and it was already picked over!
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Old 04-28-2018, 05:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FenderBender View Post
1 - make sure your trailer and tires and bearings are in top notch shape. That's a long way to trailer a boat and you don't want that trouble.

2- make sure your kids are very very comfortable diving and with all their equipment before you add in any extra elements like lobster gear or spear fishing etc. definitely do some local dives with the extra get before the big trip to get them acquainted with it all.

3- if you are diving near any of the bridges really watch the tides. The current rips through there like you would not believe.

4- I dive for the shovelnose here in Pensacola. The best, least cumbersome thing I have found is a homemade lobster hotel. Get one of those yellow bait buckets with the hinged black plastic door with the holes in it. Saw off the bottom of the bucket (the white part.) Drill holes around it and see a heavy duty laundry bag around the bucket. You just shove them in the black door and it's a one way valve into the laundry bag. Not much drag to carry around.

I can't help with spots, I mainly dove Atlantic side when I was there and saw them pretty much everywhere. They were out of season though. Have fun and good luck!
thanks! I am over the top on safety. We do this pull every year. At the start of every season, I pull the hubs and repack them and then with the super lube axles I am always greasing. At every gas stop, I physically touch every hub checking for heat build up.
were gonna do some prospecting dives just to get them back into the routine and they are taking a refresher course up here for the double check. Another reason I want to stay in shallow water and am bringing another experienced adult diver with me so I can have one adult to one kid ratio.
The tide is NO joke! We stay on Vaca cut in marathon and good gosh at the tide coming thru there! I think we are gonna stay away from bridges or any bottlenecking spots that make that tide any crazier than what you want to deal with.
AWESOME idea on the bait bucket! I appreciate the tip and will be making one or two of those!
thanks for the info!
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Old 04-28-2018, 06:48 PM   #7
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We go to little torch also. Anyway I forgot to add we prefer a tickle stick & net.
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Old 04-30-2018, 12:58 AM   #8
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The gulf side is where you want to be for lobster in Marathon. They’re are literally hundreds if not thousands of holes north of the 7 Mile bridge. All in 7-15 feet of water. Buy the numbers. It will help get you in the right areas. Your boys will have a blast.
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