A legal-sized lobster carapace is as large or larger than the fixed gap of the measuring gauge.
A California sport fishing license with ocean enhancement stamp is required to take lobster south of Point Arguello. Divers must keep their fishing license either aboard the vessel or, if beach diving, with their gear within 500 yards from shore.
A Spiny Lobster Report Card is required for every person fishing for or taking spiny lobster. This includes persons who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as children under the age of 16, persons fishing from a public pier, and persons fishing on free fishing days. Report cards must be carried by hoop netters, and divers must keep it with their fishing license.
Prior to fishing, record the month, day, location, and gear code on the first available line of the card. When you are done fishing at that location, when you switch gear, or when you are done fishing for the day, record the number of lobsters kept, then move to the next available line on the card. Report cards are valid for the entire season. If a lobster fisherman fills up a card before the season ends, the card can be returned and a new one purchased. The Spiny Lobster Report Card must be returned to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) no later than April 30 following the end of the season.
The spiny lobster open season runs from 6 a.m. on the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after March 15 (the first Wednesday in October is when commercial season opens).
No implements other than hoop nets may be used to take lobster. Divers may only use their bare or gloved hands to take lobster. Spear fishing equipment may be possessed by divers taking lobster, but spearfishing equipment may not be used to aid in taking lobster.
Both lobster divers and hoop netters must carry a lobster gauge when attempting to take lobster. The gauge is a metal or plastic measuring device that has a fixed gap of 31⁄4 inches for determining the legal size of the lobster. Lobster gauges can be purchased at most dive and tackle shops. Divers may bring lobster to the surface of the water for the purpose of measuring. Hoop netters may bring lobster aboard a vessel but are required to measure them immediately upon retrieving the net, and any undersized lobster must be released immediately. No undersized lobster may be
retained or placed in any type of receiver. The lobster daily bag and possession limit is seven (7) lobsters. This includes any lobster stored at home or elsewhere; at no time may more than seven lobsters be in anyone’s possession. A maximum of five (5) hoop nets may be fished by an individual, except on piers, jetties, and other shore-based structures where each angler is limited to two (2) hoop nets. No more than 10 hoop nets may be fished on a vessel, regardless of how many licensed anglers are aboard. Hoop net buoys south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) must be marked with the operator(s) GO ID number(s). Hoop nets deployed from shore/ pier do not need to be marked with a surface buoy.
The California spiny lobster is common from Point Conception, California to Magdalena Bay on the west coast of Baja California, Mexico. Among the more than 40 species of spiny lobsters known worldwide, the California spiny lobster is one of the largest. Males can reach three feet long and weigh up to 26 pounds. Lobster should be kept alive until cooked in any case, because the quality of the flesh declines rapidly once it dies. Lobster that remains cool and damp in a sack or ice chest moistened with a little saltwater, or covered with wet seaweed, can live for hours.
One of the easiest and quickest methods for cooking lobster is boiling, which takes only 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size and number of lobsters being cooked. Lobster turn bright red when boiled. Broiling and barbecuing are also excellent choices.
Spiny lobster reach legal size between seven and 11 years of age. Legal-sized lobster average one pound in weight. Males grow faster, live longer, and reach larger sizes Females carrying eggs are said to be buried. A large female lobster can produce 800,000 eggs, only a tiny fraction of which will survive to adulthood. Although there is currently no regulation prohibiting the take of egg-bearing females, many sport and commercial fishermen release them as a matter of conservation etiquette!