By Brandon Hayward:
Got some room in the freezer as the summer’s harvest dwindles down? Where the turkey was is now a gaping void between freezer walls? You’ve got plenty of white meat—rockfish, lingcod, sheephead, whitefish—thanks to a trip to San Nicolas or Colonett or any place in between, thanks to great bottom fishing this fall?
Lobster season is in full swing. SAC member boats have been reporting that the lobster action for night hoopnet trips has been getting better and better, as the water cools off and the fast-moving fronts get what are often referred to as “bugs” crawling out of there holes and from out under the ledges they hide in during the day.
The past few seasons has seen more and more sportboats offering lobster trips. From San Diego to Oxnard there are boats offering lobster jaunts out of each county. Most are around six hours and offer angler an opportunity to bring home a lobster dinner. With the price of lobster skyrocketing with overseas demand, buying local lobster has been tough on the wallet. That’s part of the reason why the trips are so popular. Lobster trips are economical and offer a shot at bringing home something that most would never buy at the store.
Here’s a look at the landings and boats that are part of the SAC member fleet that are offering lobster trips. This season there are more boats than ever doing the trips, which shows how popular the resource is.
San Diego Bay is the hotbed of lobster action, thanks to the incredible biomass of bugs in the bay. While the season was slow to start, there have been some good scores lately. H&M Landing offers six-hour trips at 7:00 p.m. on the Jig Strike and Alicia. They are priced at $50 or $55 dollars.
At Fisherman’s Landing the Condor does Friday to Sunday hoopnet trips, with the 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 runs costing $60.
Seaforth Landing sends the Pride out on 6:00 p.m. to 11 p.m. lobster trips Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The trips hoop in Mission Bay.
In Orange County, only Dana Wharf Sportfishing does lobster trips. The Helena takes up to 10 anglers—10 people max is standard on lobster trips, as boats are limited to 10 nets, so each angler gets their own net—and the trips include an all you can eat burger buffet and $1 beers and sodas.
The Gail Force out of Pierpoint Landing leaves at 6 p.m. and does five-hour trips for $65. The trips are known for getting the biggest lobsters, thanks to the extensive breakwall complex. The six-pack MarDiosa is also doing lobster trips. (Any of the smaller charter boats are available for charter, up and down the coast.)
There are no lobster trips for sportboat anglers in the Santa Monica Bay, despite the bay being off limits to commercial take (like the frontside of Catalina, and inside of all the bays and harbors), so it takes getting up to Ventura County to find the northmost lobster run for a SAC Landing. Channel Island Sportfishing’s Cobra runs hoopnet trips on Friday and Saturday and Sunday nights. The 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. runs cost $65.
LOBSTER BASICS AT A GLANCE: The season for California spiny lobster runs from October to March. Anglers must have a lobster report card and a California fishing license. The boats provide lobster gauges (measuring devises), bait, hoopnets and instruction. All also encourage fishing, so bring a bass outfit. Most of the zones that hold lobster also kick out bay species like bass and sculpin.