Lobster Season Mini Season and Stone Crab 2014
It’s Time to go Lobstering in Florida
The two day mini season happens July 30 and 31, 2014, always taking place on the last full Wednesday and Thursday of July each year. Regular lobster season takes place from August 6 – March 31. Destination Cuisine will be heading to Marathon, FL on opening day August 6. We will let you know how this season’s lobster supply looks.
Florida Stone Crab Season Draws to a Close
Stone crab season in Florida will end on May 15, 2014 and we now turn our thoughts to the next most scrumptious of Florida shellfish, the Florida spiny Lobster.
The stone crab season will begin on October 15, 2014 when you can once again enjoy these sweet, meaty claws which are available fresh in almost every raw bar, fish market, and seafood restaurant from October 15 – May 15. Other states have varied availability and you can actually enjoy these year round and they are readily available, fresh and delivered to your door through Amazon.com complete with mustard sauce and hammers to crack the giant hard shell claws. Try different versions of a creamy mustard sauce to suit your tastes. Below is a creamy version that pairs equally well with cold king crab legs.
Served hot with drawn butter or cold with a creamy mustard sauce, these succulent crustaceans are almost a delicacy and the fact that you can’t eat them until October 15, makes me miss them already. This hiatus gives the stone crabs time to regrow its’ claws and replenish the supply for the next season. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, about 40 percent of the state’s annual stone crab harvest of more than 3.1 million pounds comes from Florida Keys, making that region Florida’s top supplier of the world-renowned delicacy. A great resource for Florida stone crabs, lobster season and general Florida Keys fun can be found at www.fla-keys.com or get your own Florida Keys Guide.
Where to get the Best Conch Chowder in the Keys
No trip to the keys is complete without indulging on traditional conch. It is plentiful here and you will find it on most menus in the keys. With all of that conch, I decided to search for the best conch chowder in the keys, starting from Key Largo to Key West. In three days, I sampled 10 conch chowders. They were all unique in their own right and three were standouts and as different as there are different palates.
In no particular order
Key Largo, the award winning conch chowder at Key Largo Conch House
Islamorada, Ma’s Fish Camp
Marathon, Sparky’s Landing
Where To Stay
One of the first items of business is to secure a place to stay. Hotels and Inns sell out quickly, particularly for the Mini Season July 30-31. Here is a good place to start your search in the keys.
Every July the coastal areas of Florida are flooded with lobster hunters trying to get their share of this year’s bounty when the official mini lobster season kicks off. As with most seasonal driven travel, if you are planning a trip to the ever popular keys for lobster season which takes place August 6, 2014 through March 31, 2015 with mini season on July 30 and 31, 2014, you will want to start planning your trip now. There are still a few rooms and accommodation deals can be found but don’t put off planning this wildly popular destination vacation. Great accommodations are still available here but sell outs are not unusual. If you prefer to enjoy this sweet crustacean from dry land, check out the The Key West LobsterFest which takes place August 7-10, 2014 in Key West, Florida.
Florida Lobster Season 2014
There are two Florida Lobster Seasons, the 2 day mini season and the 8 month regular lobster season. This year the mini season begins at 12:01 am on Wednesday, July 30th and ends at 12:00 midnight on Thursday 31st. The mini lobster season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. Make sure to always verify dates and regulations with Florida Fish and Wildlife.
The regular 8 month lobster season is always August 6 through March 31. Here are some tips on how to catch a Spiny Florida lobster.
Hiring a Guide for Lobstering in the Keys
After pouring over many websites and speaking to numerous captains, I came to one conclusion; most captains want to get you to the lobster, get your limit and take out the next in line as soon as you catch your limit. During mini season, this could cost you $500 for a 30 minute experience. I wanted a more personal approach and preferred to spend as much time on the water as possible, perhaps doing a little fishing if we limited out quickly. I lucked into renting a boat from one of the most quality places in Marathon, Captain Pips Boat Rentals. We were flying into the Marathon Airport and Captain Pips was just a few miles from the Airport at mile marker . Another option is to hire a guide. They will show you how to catch lobster while snorkeling and some may show you how to spear fish once the lobstering was done. The guide will take you in their boat right to the holes that were loaded with lobsters, some had at least 25 lobsters in one hole. We were thrilled with our catch and succeeding with even catching a few of our own. Once we were back on dry land, you will learn how to clean the lobster and prepare the tails. The chef from the restaurant Island Fish Company Marina, greeted us and as a favor to the Captain took four tails and prepared them two ways for our dinner that evening. We had a chance to clean up and enjoy our fresh catch a couple hours after getting back to the docks. What a perfect ending to the day. An amazing, experienced Captain, beautiful water, new learning adventure and sweet lobster tail prepared two ways to end the perfect day.
Lobster, Food and Fun with Angler Management Charters in Marathon, FL
Finding the Elusive Florida Spiny Lobster
The following are tips on where to look for the elusive crustaceans:
First, you need to think and act like a lobster. Finding them can be tricky unless you know what your looking for. Look for coral and rocks that some lobsters might be hiding under. Look closely as you may not see them initially since they blend in, but once you get down there and inspect, there they are. You can find lobsters snorkeling or scuba diving.
Often you can see the lobster’s antennas from the surface, but it’s always a good idea to get down there and check even if you don’t see any at first glance.
Catching a Florida Lobster
According to FloridaLobstering.com, their recommendation for catching a lobster is as follows:
Once you have located a lobster under a rock or in a hole, you want to take your tickle stick and slide it behind the lobster. Once the tickle stick is behind the lobster, you will gently tap the lobster on its tail. This will cause the lobster to slowly walk forward. If it does not walk forward, you can be a little more aggressive. You may want to use the tickle stick in a sweeping motion to try and force it out of the hole. Once it is out of the hole, you should place your net behind it. At this point, you have two options. The best option is simply to try and trap the lobster between the ground and your net. Sometimes this is not possible. This is where preying on the lobsters natural instincts come into play. If you simply tap it on the forehead, it will cause the lobster to quickly shoot back into your net. The key is, you need to then quickly swoop the end of the net around so that the lobster is trapped in the net. If you simply let it continue to shoot backwards without closing the net, it will continue flipping its way right back out of your net. No matter how hard you try to get the net closed, you will lose a few lobsters because of this each year.
Remember, you can not take a lobster out of the water or put it into your bag until you have made sure the lobster is of legal size. The video below gives a basic understanding of the lobster catching technique. You will need good snorkel gear and a complete lobster kit consisting of the following:
- Lobster net
- Drawstring mesh bag
- Aluminum legal gauge
- Heavy duty sure grip glove
- Aluminum tickle stick 36″
FloridaLobstering.com is a great resource if your new to this fun activity. Their website is chock full of instruction on finding your fill of Florida lobster. You can also check out this short and concise technique on catching Florida lobster video.
How to Prepare Florida Lobster – The Finale
It is almost limitless to how you can prepare these sweet crustaceans. There are no claws and the delectable tails can be steamed, broiled, grilled. stuffed or baked. The possibilities are endless and I will post recipes once season gets underway.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is a great resource for reviewing the restrictions that apply to the recreational harvesting of Florida Stone Crabs, lobster and everything wildlife in Florida. See more Florida seafood recipes.
Eat Well…Live Full
Written by: Laura Raymond
|June 1. 2014|
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