Diving isn’t really my thing. I like being in the boat and catching fish, but being in the water I find to be a bit sketchy at times. Regardless, when mini season came around, I couldn’t turn down a chance to get down to the keys!
In Monroe County, lobster mini season is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of the month of July. In these two days, people flock from all over the country to dive for these tasty bugs.
It’s absolute pandemonium, however because of Covid-19 and Monroe County shutting down nearly every public ramp, this year was very quiet.
My friends and I were staying in Key Largo and so were able to launch at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
I quickly discovered that lobstering was much different from scalloping. Diving in much deeper water, poking around coral heads to see if anything was inside.
Essentially it was a game of leaving no stone un-turned until you found what you were looking for. However, the payoff was worth it.
Florida spiny lobsters are different from Maine lobsters in that they don’t possess claws and are covered in sharp spines that can rip flesh (gloves are required here). However, they are similar in that they are both bugs and both delicious.
I have no experience with Maine lobsters, but I can tell you that these Florida lobsters are very smart and very fast. They’re certainly a challenge to catch!
Mini Season Success
In addition to the dolphin I caught with Captain Charles, which you can read about here, we grilled the lobsters and ate like kings. We prepared them by cutting them in half down the middle with kitchen shears, scooping out the waste then grilling them whole. See below.
Aside from eating lobsters and dolphin, we stopped in at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, a Key Largo favorite. My hogfish tacos were to die for. Highly recommend.
Other Mini Season Wins
Aside from the lobsters and the fishing, diving in the keys was absolutely fabulous. I swam with nurse sharks, barracudas and even a sea turtle!
We drove to Key West and took a ferry to the Dry Tortugas National Park for more diving. Here I swam with large yellowtail snappers, mangrove snappers, parrotfish, cuttlefish and a variety of exotic, tropical reef fishes.
Additionally, we explored Fort Jefferson!
After a great day exploring we spent some time down in Key West. I had a Cuban dinner at a restaurant that I will never remember the name of, but I will remember that it was absolutely fantastic.
While things were a little different than usual, it was still a great time. Key West has never given me anything other than a great time. I can’t wait to go back!
Until next time, Tight Lines.