|Seas: 1-2 feet||Winds: 5-10 E/SE||Viz: 35 feet||Temp: 85 F|
So I head down a day early this weekend to take advantage of the opening day of lobster season (August 6 for those that don't know). The forecast called for 1-2' seas all weekend so we were hoping for some smooth sailing and clean water. Since the craze is usually so out of hand in the keys, our plan was to be on the water before sunrise so we could be on our first spot by the time there was enough light to see. The forecast didn't exactly hold true for that Friday morning as we were making way under 2-3' seas very early that morning. We were surprised as we headed out that we didn't see more boats on the water. It's usually such a free-for-all when lobster season opens that you have to be ready to argue who was where first and who drifted into who's area while trying to keep everything civil.
But today was different than years past. I had heard that there wasn't as much activity as usual during mini-season the previous week as well. I had just chalked it up to a crappy economy and people not wanting to take time off from work in the middle of the week. But I was sure that with opening day being on a Friday, that many more people would be willing to make it a long weekend (like me) and pass up on Friday happy hours and the such to get that early-bird jump on the season, but I was wrong. We were able to limit out that day with ease even with the large number of licensed fishermen we had on the boat. We were even able to take other friends out to some spots and let them catch some of the prized crustaceans as well. Quite honestly, there were bugs everywhere. This is probably the best lobster season I have witnessed for the past 5 or 6 years.
It seemed as though you couldn't peek under a ledge or a large rock without finding lobsters stacked up like rows of teeth in a shark's mouth. In addition to the large numbers we were finding, we were also very surprised by the very large size of hte majority of the lobsters we were catching. As opposed to other years, we were only having to measure the vast minority of the lobsters we were finding. For the most part, you only had to grab them in your hand to realize they were well beyond the minimum size limit.
We were very glad to find that Saturday and Sunday were more of the same. It would seem that the original forecast was just a little early as Saturday was filled with mild winds and calm seas, making it much nicer to head out and dive for this weekend's quarry. Sunday was back to higher winds gusting in the 10-15mph range and 3' seas just inside the reef. The day was fairly uneventful with the exception of us being left a little stranded on the water. The conditions under which this happened are still a matter of heated debate (one argument is that we stayed under for too long) and somewhat unclear, but suffice it to say that no matter how good of a diver you are, it's still a little unnerving to surface, spin your head around twice and not be able to spot your boat.
We didn't take any pictures this weekend because quite honestly, lobsters make for boring pics and the spearfishing took a back seat to lobstering this weekend so it was only a few fish that were really the bycatch of decent hogs and snappers that would stray in too close as we were creating all the commotion with the lobsters. Hopefully as things calm down a little with the lobster over the next couple of weeks, we can get back to business and get some more pics up before the end of the summer arrives.