Todd Lynch

Lobster Season in San Diego – Things That Go Bump in the Night

California Spiny Lobster during Lobster Season
California Spiny Lobster during Lobster Season

Catch a California Spiny Lobster during the annual Lobster Season in San Diego. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Lobster season opens on the Saturday prior to the first Wednesday in October and closes on the first Wednesday after March 15th, and is designed to protect the lobster population from overfishing during their summer reproductive cycle.

The California Spiny Lobster can live 50 years and grow up to 25 pounds. At a market value of 20 dollars a pound, even the typical two or three-pound specimen is a worthy catch. Unlike its East Coast counterpart, the Spiny Lobster doesn’t have claws, but it’s still a tricky business to catch one, especially when you consider that divers are only allowed to use their bare (gloved) hands. Nocturnal hunters, they hide deep in caves and crevices by day, so divers typically do their hunting at night as well, when the lobsters – or “bugs” – venture out into the open. And, on the eve of opening day, it’s traditional among San Diego divers to gather at favorite hunting grounds at midnight, when bug season officially begins. Dive clubs and shops hold organized events on opening weekend, with prizes awarded for the biggest catch.

Try a Night Dive during Lobster Season

Night diving is a surreal experience, focusing all your attention on the small area illuminated by the beam of your underwater flashlight. It’s not hard to spot lobsters, sideling across the bottom, and you’re likely to feel others bumping into you unseen. They’re not fast on their feet, but they can buck like a bronco when captured and jet backwards in a quick flip of the tail. The trick is to freeze them like a deer in the headlights, then quickly grab them from behind and wrangle them into your game bag. Lucky divers return home for a late night lobster feast, while non-diving spectators can enjoy the bounty of fresh lobster offered by local markets and restaurants this time of year.

What to Know about Lobster Season

In addition to knowing the dates of lobster season, there are a few other important rules and regulations to be aware of before trying your luck:

  • Residents and visitors alike (16 years and older) are required to have a valid California Sportfishing License
  • Lobster hunters of all ages must have a current Spiny Lobster Report Card
  • The minimum size limit is three-and-a-quarter inches measured from the eye socket to the rear of the body shell (divers carry a measuring device for this purpose)
  • The maximum bag limit per day is seven lobsters
  • Lobsters can only be caught by hand (not with nets, spears or other tackle)

It goes without saying that diving requires formal training, especially at night. Always go with a buddy, know your limits and dive safe. For more information check with California Fish and Wildlife or a local dive or fishing outfitter.

> Find out more about Sportfishing in San Diego

Robert Arends

5 to Try for Big Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay
San Diego's Big Bay

Pick your adventure on San Diego’s Big Bay

Spring is here and there’s no better time to make a splash on San Diego Bay – also called the “Big Bay” –  with its treasure trove of attractions, tours, events and cool points of interest.

Following are my top 5 to Try:

1. The Port of San Diego’s Annual Day at the Docks

Kids fishing at the docks

Spend a day with the kids fishing.

The Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks celebration in April is the West Coast’s largest public sportfishing celebration – and the official start of Southern California’s popular spring saltwater fishing season. Festivities at American’s Cup Harbor include over 200 maritime exhibits, live entertainment, a casting competition, captains’ dunk tank, free fishing and kids art areas. It’s fun and free!

2. The San Salvador

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Did you know: in 1542 European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed aboard his ship, the San Salvador, and reached “a very good enclosed port” naming it “San Miguel.” Today we call it San Diego Bay and visitors can step back in time to check out the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s building of a full-sized, fully functional, historically accurate replica of Cabrillo’s flagship, the San Salvador. The framing is nearly complete and it’s easy to imagine the ship that she will become. Ahoy!

3. The Living Coast Discovery Center

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

The South Bay city of Chula Vista is home to one of my favorite attractions for up-close animal encounters: the Living Coast Discovery Center. You can see endangered green sea turtles (tip: go during feeding time!), leopard sharks, friendly stingrays (minus the stingers so you can pet them!) and magnificent birds like falcons and burrowing owls. The observation tower and hiking trails afford picturesque views of the surrounding wetlands and bay.

4. Seeing the Big Bay…While on the Big Bay

Flagship Patriot Jet Boat Tour

Speed across San Diego’s Big Bay aboard a jet powered boat like Flagship’s Patriot

Water activities abound on the bay, from the affordable Coronado Ferry ride, to narrated harbor tours (on Flagship and Hornblower), SEAL Tours, whale watching excursions, kayak tours (including San Diego’s only urban kayak adventure), Jetpack America rides (you too can fly like a superhero!) and two new thrilling, turbo-charged boat rides (the Sea Rocket and Flagship Patriot). Let’s make some waves!

5. Headquarters at Seaport District

The Headquarters at Seaport District. on San Diego's Big Bay

The stylish new Headquarters at Seaport District

Foodies and shoppers are in for a treat at the new Headquarters at Seaport District, located in San Diego’s former Spanish-style police headquarters (pose for pix in an actual jail cell). Nosh on gourmet tacos at Puesto or grab a slice at Pizzeria Mozza, Chef Mario Batali’s first foray into San Diego’s dining scene. Shop-portunties include local surf photographer Aaron Chang’s Ocean Art Gallery and Kitson, a celebrity hot spot and go-to fashion boutique dedicated to pop culture.

Pick your own adventure and discover the many wonders of San Diego’s Big Bay this spring! 🙂