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  1. #1
    Petty Officer 3rd Class
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    Default Best bait for lobster in so California

    I live in san Diego and want to go lobster hopping. Curious what the best technique is and bait. What I'm asking is basically how you do it
    Oside por vida

  2. #2
    Chief Petty Officer thurps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    There aren't any lobster in the Pacific.
    The fishin' is always good. Sometimes the catchin' is better.

  3. #3
    Captain sasto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Quote Originally Posted by thurps View Post
    There aren't any lobster in the Pacific.
    Spiney lobster in Southern California.... I suppose you are using traps? If so, chicken necks are by far the best I've ever used, ham hock is second favorite.
    "Andrea C"

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    I assume you'll be hooping off a pier?

    Get yourself some hoop nets. There are regulations on their size, depth, how many you can have per person, etc. Also, you now need a "lobster card" to tally your catch, even though you don't need a fishing license off a pier. Look all that stuff up on the CA DFG website. You also have to have a lobster carapace measuring device on you while hooping.

    (In CA, you have to have a commercial license to use any kind of trap or cage-style device)

    Any hoop net you get at the local Sporting Goods store (or "Second Chance" type place) is likely to be legal. Good ones will have good heavy hoops (so you don't have to add weight), a fairly tight net weave, good, heavy, synthetic rope (at least 75' worth) attached in at least four places around the hoop, with a bouy above the net to keep the ropes suspended.

    As for bait, the BEST bait IMO is stinky, oily fish heads and carcasses that you've left out in the sun in a black garbage bag for a week. Mackerel and bonito are running this time of year, can be caught off the pier, and are excellent bait. I attach the bait to the net with plastic wire ties (zip ties), but you can use twist-ties, string, whatever.

    Best is a night with bright moon and low wind/swell, during a small incoming tide. High swell and large tide will push your nets around, flip them, cost you bait, make you catch nothing but seaweed, etc. Go out on the pier to just past (deeper than) where the waves start to roll up into breakers. You'll likely be over about 15-25 feet of water. This is where the bugs hang out, waiting for crap to roll in. Set up on the side where the water/swell is moving away from you, so your nets don't get dragged under the pier. Tie off the rope to the pier railing, lower the the hoops, give just enough rope slack to lay on the bottom and a little extra slack for tidal movement, bring a folding chair and some refreshments, and wait.

    Every ten minutes or so, pull 'em up. Wear leather work gloves if you like your skin. Give a good, strong initial yank, and keep the rope coming in steady so the bastards can't escape the net. They are quick. Bring a good flashlight so you can check the net just above the water, save yourself the extra 20 or 30 feet of line pull up to the pier if the net's empty (500 out of 1000 pulls), contains only junk like moray eels or seaweed (400 out of 1000 pulls), or only obviously small lobster (99 out of 1000 pulls). You only need to pull it all the way up on that 1 out of 1000 pulls where there's one that even looks close to being a keeper.

    (I've hooped 3 or 4 times a season for about the last 10 years, and in all that time I've gotten three keepers. Please don't plan on feeding the family with this hobby! The kids always find it fun though, 'cause you never know what you'll pull up, and you meet many "interesting" people on the pier at night.)

    If you'll be hooping off a boat, your chances improve greatly because you can maneuver to the spots where rock meets sand, that's where they REALLY like to hang out.

    A good place to get more of your Q's answered on this is www.sdfish.com

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Petty Officer 3rd Class
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Thanks for all he info the two people before are douchers and must be jealous I have 75 degree weather right now. I will be off a boat and can't wait. I got two hoops from a friend so intend on using them!!!
    Oside por vida

  6. #6
    Captain sasto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Quote Originally Posted by Krs1 View Post
    Thanks for all he info the two people before are douchers and must be jealous I have 75 degree weather right now.
    Your welcome.......and I was being serious.
    "Andrea C"

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Quote Originally Posted by Krs1 View Post
    Thanks for all he info the two people before are douchers and must be jealous I have 75 degree weather right now. I will be off a boat and can't wait. I got two hoops from a friend so intend on using them!!!
    I don't think Sasto is jealous of Oceanside.
    I think he is right. Anything oily seems to work better better.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Quote Originally Posted by ajgraz View Post
    I assume you'll be hooping off a pier?

    Get yourself some hoop nets. There are regulations on their size, depth, how many you can have per person, etc. Also, you now need a "lobster card" to tally your catch, even though you don't need a fishing license off a pier. Look all that stuff up on the CA DFG website. You also have to have a lobster carapace measuring device on you while hooping.

    (In CA, you have to have a commercial license to use any kind of trap or cage-style device)

    Any hoop net you get at the local Sporting Goods store (or "Second Chance" type place) is likely to be legal. Good ones will have good heavy hoops (so you don't have to add weight), a fairly tight net weave, good, heavy, synthetic rope (at least 75' worth) attached in at least four places around the hoop, with a bouy above the net to keep the ropes suspended.

    As for bait, the BEST bait IMO is stinky, oily fish heads and carcasses that you've left out in the sun in a black garbage bag for a week. Mackerel and bonito are running this time of year, can be caught off the pier, and are excellent bait. I attach the bait to the net with plastic wire ties (zip ties), but you can use twist-ties, string, whatever.

    Best is a night with bright moon and low wind/swell, during a small incoming tide. High swell and large tide will push your nets around, flip them, cost you bait, make you catch nothing but seaweed, etc. Go out on the pier to just past (deeper than) where the waves start to roll up into breakers. You'll likely be over about 15-25 feet of water. This is where the bugs hang out, waiting for crap to roll in. Set up on the side where the water/swell is moving away from you, so your nets don't get dragged under the pier. Tie off the rope to the pier railing, lower the the hoops, give just enough rope slack to lay on the bottom and a little extra slack for tidal movement, bring a folding chair and some refreshments, and wait.

    Every ten minutes or so, pull 'em up. Wear leather work gloves if you like your skin. Give a good, strong initial yank, and keep the rope coming in steady so the bastards can't escape the net. They are quick. Bring a good flashlight so you can check the net just above the water, save yourself the extra 20 or 30 feet of line pull up to the pier if the net's empty (500 out of 1000 pulls), contains only junk like moray eels or seaweed (400 out of 1000 pulls), or only obviously small lobster (99 out of 1000 pulls). You only need to pull it all the way up on that 1 out of 1000 pulls where there's one that even looks close to being a keeper.

    (I've hooped 3 or 4 times a season for about the last 10 years, and in all that time I've gotten three keepers. Please don't plan on feeding the family with this hobby! The kids always find it fun though, 'cause you never know what you'll pull up, and you meet many "interesting" people on the pier at night.)

    If you'll be hooping off a boat, your chances improve greatly because you can maneuver to the spots where rock meets sand, that's where they REALLY like to hang out.

    A good place to get more of your Q's answered on this is www.sdfish.com

    Good luck!
    Nice breakdown on hooping for lobster. Three keepers in the last 10yrs?? I'll stick with crabbing!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    We usually use Spanish Mackerel that we buy off the bait barge. Your best off using a bait cage like these zip tied to the hoop net. This helps keeping the seals from stealing your bait. My brother and I go out in the L.A. Harbor usually twice a month during the season and average around 4 keeper bugs each time. Makes for a great BBQ the next day. Just be careful because it's an addicting hobby.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Quote Originally Posted by hotrod100 View Post
    We usually use Spanish Mackerel that we buy off the bait barge. Your best off using a bait cage like these zip tied to the hoop net. This helps keeping the seals from stealing your bait. My brother and I go out in the L.A. Harbor usually twice a month during the season and average around 4 keeper bugs each time. Makes for a great BBQ the next day. Just be careful because it's an addicting hobby.
    There ya go. Get after 'em on a boat instead of off the pier and your chances of nabbing keepers greatly improve.

    During my vessel's current overhaul, I'm putting in some LED cabin lights, a few extra cleats, and some other amenities that will make hooping off the boat at night a better proposition for me.

  11. #11
    Vice Admiral CheapboatKev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Heres a Cali Fish and Game pdf on taking the spiny bugs.
    Make sure you have a report card, here's to a 4.0 average..lol

    http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pdfs/lobsterbrochure.pdf


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  12. #12
    Petty Officer 1st Class zodiac340m's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Quote Originally Posted by sasto View Post
    Spiney lobster in Southern California.... I suppose you are using traps? If so, chicken necks are by far the best I've ever used, ham hock is second favorite.


    I caught crabs with hook line and sinker using pork fat lol. I was really fishing for fish and trying out how pork fat will be and ended up catching crabs instead

  13. #13
    Captain sasto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Quote Originally Posted by zodiac340m View Post
    I caught crabs with hook line and sinker using pork fat lol. I was really fishing for fish and trying out how pork fat will be and ended up catching crabs instead
    Did you catch enough for dinner? I think most thought I was kidding. I've caught more crabs and lobster on other meats than I have fishbait.
    "Andrea C"

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    I just left SD not to long ago. if your in Oside. go down to coronado.(i know its a bit of a drive) i had awesome luck lobster diving...... catching by hand..... i would suggest wearing gloves..... haha. come home with quite a few each time. dive off north island or off point loma by the jedi/rock formation. just a thought.

  15. #15
    Seaman Apprentice
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    Default Re: Best bait for lobster in so California

    Best bait?

    Mix Mackrel with Chicken caracsses. Watch the Ralphs or Vons ads and get a few whole chickens at a good price, its way cheaper than buying fish for bait and the lobster don't care. You can fill up two or three pots with one bird and a couple of macks if youre thrifty.
    I've found a little mackrel will create a nice stinky chum/oil slick to attract the bugs, then the chicken gives them something to chew on.
    I get my Macks by going out during the day and dropping sabiki's, but you can buy them for a price at the bait shops or Asian supermarkets.

    I dedicate a whole day just to catching bait for the bugs.
    Then freeze 'em and mix with the chicken in your nets.

    You're allowed 5 nets per fisherman, and 10 total per boat.
    Start with just a couple to get the feel.

    You need to go at night, lobster out here are nocturnal., just around sunset to about 9pm seems to be the most successful for me.

    As for technique:
    The idea is to leave enough line floating to absorb any tidal fluctuations, net movement along the bottom (yes, they drift a bit) and current, but not so much slack line that you have a ton of line to mess with when collecting your net.
    The lobster are super spooky, and can feel when you begin your pull, so it must be quick, non-stop and as straight up as possible. This might be the most important thing to remember. Quick, steady, and straight up pulls. Gather up your slack line very gently and carefully so as not to tug on the line that might jostle the net. When your line is collected and its time to finally put pressure on the net, don't hesitate. The shape of the net is designed to cause the bugs to tumble down into the bottom when you pull up, and if it's not a steady pull, they'll flip out and you'll get an empty net. By pulling steadily they should be pinned to the bottom of the net.
    Soak time is preferential. I've found that if the bugs are crawlin' they will take less than a couple of minutes to find your bait if it is good. Some guys will soak for an hour. I don't, and I eat a lot of lobster. I've found the amount of time it takes you to lay 5 nets down is about perfect, so when the 5th pot is down, go get your first one and just cycle through them.
    Try to fish as close to structure as you feel comfortable, even along the inside of the channel jetties, kelp beds, anywhere there are going to be rocks on the bottom. That's where they live.

    Expect to lose gear. It happens to everyone, especially in the beginning. Typically it's from a fast current pulling your line under, or if moving kelp wraps around your buoy and pulls it under. Sometimes seals will drag your net under or away and pull it into the rocks to rob it, and you lose it.
    If you think seals suck for fishing, wait till you start buggin. They're smart, aggressive and know how to rob your nets.
    Drop your pots in a line and move from finish to start.

    I get Promar LED lights and stick them in my buoys, I've drilled a small hole in each buoy for the light to stick in, and then I drilled a hole on the other side of the buoy and stuffed a big lead weight in there so the side with the light always floats up.
    Also, go buy some of the reflective tape the truckers use for their trucks (White and Red strips) and stick that on your buoys.
    If your marker lights fail, that tape will pick up any spotlight beam in a snap.
    Also, upgrade your buyos. The nets come with dinky little pill buyos and they will be pulled under by the current.
    Go get the larger bullet shaped buoys.

    Most of all be careful. Dark, rocks kelp etc. It's a head on a pivot at all times situtation.
    Oh yeah, Don't try to pull out any eels that might come up in your nets.
    Shake 'em out over the water, even if it means losing bugs. I had my thumb ripped off by a hungry eel in October. They mean business.

    Good luck. There are lobster in the Pacific, and I get my limits often. It took a couple years of learning to get to that point however.

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