The 2022-2023 California crawfish season opens this Saturday, October 1st at 6 a.m., and hundreds of people will be eager to drop off their first sets of baskets of the season. Here are some things to keep in mind before you hit the water, along with some reminder tips to give you the best chance of hitting your limit on opening day.
First, it’s important to remember that California lobster is a highly sought after resource and regulated as such. Although it may seem like common sense, remember to purchase your lobster report card BEFORE any lobster fishing activity. You can acquire these at most of your local tackle stores or head over to the CDFW website where they have a dedicated site. Online license sales and services page.
The Lobster Report Card costs $10.80 this season and is required for anyone intending to catch lobster at any time of the season, as well as anyone assisting with the lobster catch . You must have your declaration card with you at all times while lobster fishing, and it must be completed before taking the water with the date, gear identification code and location. Remember, if you are fishing multiple locations on the same night, you must document your catch before heading to a new location. Don’t forget a pen!
Here is a list of some additional rules and things to keep in mind for opening:
- The recreational bag limit for CA Spiny Lobster is (7) seven lobsters per person.
- Except on a pier, every angler 16 and older needs a California fishing license and lobster license.
- Every angler participating in lobster hooping needs a gauge. Everybody!
- No more than 10 landing nets per boat and if you practice the hoop alone, in a kayak or skiff, no more than 5 landing nets.
- The fisherman’s GO ID must be on the buoy the fisherman is pulling. Only the fisherman with this Go ID can pull this buoy.
- After two hours of soaking, the net is determined, abandoned and could most likely be recovered by Harbor Patrol, Fish and Game or the Navy.
Lobster fishing gear
Now that you’re ready with your CA fishing license and lobster bulletin, it’s time to start thinking about your gear. Although fyke nets are by far the most popular way to target crawfish, whatever method you catch you must have an approved measuring device. This will be used to determine if your catch is legal size or not. The minimum legal size for CA lobster is 3 1/4 inches when measured in a straight line along the carapace from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the carapace.
Next you will need your nets and accompanying line or rope equipment and a float large enough to incorporate your license number and phone number, and a pressure light. Depending on the type of conditions i.e. depth, location, current, you will be targeting lobsters, the size/weight of your nets and the amount of rope required will vary. Fortunately Promar offers a variety of sizes to suit all types of scenarios, from sets of calm, shallow water bays to deep dips in the strong currents of offshore islands.
Of course, we can’t forget the bait cages. There’s not much you can do, but make sure you get one that allows your bait to easily establish a scent trail for bugs to follow. Not all bait cages are created equal when it comes to keeping pesky sea lions out of them, so that’s another factor to consider when choosing the best bait cage for you.
Finally, don’t forget to acquire some good glow sticks to attach to your buoys or else you may end up returning home with less gear than you took out. While chemical glow sticks have long been a popular choice, many are now opting for battery-operated sticks that are not only brighter but also have different settings that can help you identify your traps when using nets in high traffic areas.
Preparation and planning
Now is the time to get down to business. We all know that the end goal of going after lobsters is to get out there, push your limits, and come home to some delicious tail meat for friends and family, although that’s a whole lot more. easily said than done. Planning and preparation play an important role when it comes to a successful night on the water.
Before you even leave, you should have an action plan. Whether you’ve decided to target your favorite structure on the coast or just want to spend a relaxed evening in the bay, it’s important to know which area you want to target and it’s not a bad idea to have a plan B ready at the moment. if he does not produce or if other fishermen have settled in your place. For starters, reefs, piers, and breeze walls are great areas to target, but know that you won’t be the only one with this idea.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the importance of having proper bait for your bait cages. It could be the difference between watching the anglers next to you quickly reach their limits or being the angler who quickly catches their limits. Acquiring bait that can quickly establish a strong odor is crucial, as this is how lobsters find and enter your trap. Fresh dead bait is far more effective than that skipjack tuna that’s been frozen in your freezer for a year and a half. It should be cut into small pieces (but not so small that they can fall out of your bait cage) and possibly crushed, so that the oils from the bait are easily excreted into the surrounding water. The more oil and blood the better, so fish like bonito, tuna, mackerel and sardines are all great choices for baiting your traps.
Lobster fishing can be long, cold and brutal on the water, but remember, it’s supposed to be fun. As long as you know your rules, your gear is in order, and you’re prepared, all you need to do is grab a few of your best friends and get going. Remember to be safe and always keep an eye out for other boaters and any other obstacles you may encounter on the water.
Below the Recreational Lobster Fishing Information provided by the CDFW that you should familiarize yourself with before you get in the water this season.
- The recreational lobster season begins at 6 a.m. on the Saturday before the first Wednesday in October and ends at midnight on the first Wednesday (night) after March 15. **The season no longer starts at midnight for security reasons** To find out about the regulations in force, go to Current California Recreational Ocean Fishing Regulations for Point Conception to the United States-Mexico Border.
- Recreational Bag Limit: Seven lobsters per person.
- Minimum legal size limit: Three and a quarter inches, measured in a straight line down the midline of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the carapace (3 ¼ inch carapace). Please consult the Lobster Measurement Chart (PDF)(opens in a new tab) on how to measure your lobster.
- Permit requirements: CDFW Spiny Lobster Report Card and California Recreational Fishing License, available from CDFW Selling and servicing licenses online. An Ocean Enhancement validation is also required if fishing in ocean waters south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County).
- Scuba diving skin and equipment requirements: All skin and SCUBA divers should only use their hands to pick up the lobster.
- Dockside Fishing Gear Requirements: You can use up to 2 traps when fishing from a public dock.
- Vessel fishing gear requirements: You can own up to 5 traps while fishing from a ship, but the total number of traps in a ship cannot exceed 10, even if there are more than 2 people on the ship
- Fishing spots: See the CDFW Marine Sport Fishing Interactive Web Map (opens in a new tab).