Shipwrecks have been related to being an oasis in the middle of a barren desert of sand. It is true that fish and all types of marine life thrive in and around wrecks because in time wrecks become an artificial reef. Cold-water lobsters or Main Lobsters (Homarus americanus) also make their home in and around northeast shipwrecks. In fact cold-water lobsters are the main diving attraction of some shipwrecks. These tasty crustations known to divers, as bugs are delicious, once captured and cooked that is. To catch a lobster the diver must first find him. Usually the diver will swim around looking into every hole with his light until he sees the claws or antenna. The lobster has a great defense with his claws, in fact larger bugs are said to be able to crush a coke bottle. As a rule, larger lobsters are slower than their younger counterparts. In any case, no matter the size of the creature getting bit can be quite painful. The diver must position himself to make what may be his only attempt at catching his prey. The diver must then quickly thrust his hand into the hole grabbing the lobster just behind or on top of its claws. If the lobster is deep into the hole you can pin its claws down while slowly working your fingers up its body into position. When the lobster is caught simply pull him out and put him tail first into a catch bag. Lobsters swim backwards so by inserting them
tail first we make sure they swim into and not out of the bag. This of course was an overly simplified scenario. The art of lobstering goes far beyond. For example the true bug fanatic knows which
shipwrecks holds more lobsters, usually low lying wood wrecks, which arenít visited that often. They also know tricks to get the big bugs out of their deep holes. For example when a lobster is deep into a pipe and can't be reached from either end the diver can try to beat the pipe with a sledge hammer. The lobster will usually try to escape the noise and can then be tracked down and caught. When a big bug is deep in a blind hole you can try a few tricks, first try catching a smaller lobster and releasing him into the bigger bugs hole. Usually the larger bug will quickly come out to guard his territory against the intruder. When he comes close to the opening grab him. Another trick is to bait the lobster by putting a small piece of fish or mussel meat at the entrance to his hole. After a few minutes he may decide to come out for dinner. The best trick I know for consistently catching lobsters is to know where the best holes are on each wreck. Lobsters are very territorial and seem to live in a hierarchy of sorts. The biggest lobster gets the best hole. Once you have found one big lobster make a mental note of where he was caught and simply return on consecutive dives. You will most likely find another large lobster living in the same hole. Some divers use tickle sticks made from either a collapsible car antenna or a wrapped up wire that can be unwrapped and bent into almost any shape in order to get it in behind the bug. They then touch the bugís tail and the lobster walks right into their hands. Another trick is to tape a lobster size gauge onto a
dive light. This way very little time is wasted. You find, catch and check the bugís size without having to fumble around putting your light down or trying to find the gauge. A lobster size gauge measures the length of its carapace. That is the distance from the eye socket to the beginning of the tail. Remember to always check the lobsterís underside. If it has eggs on the underside of its tail release it back into its hole to assure a good supply for future years.
As with most things the more you practice the better you will become not only in finding and catching lobsters but also in putting smiles on the faces of your family back home who will surely enjoy eating your catch.
After all, scuba diving is a big
investment, after you have all of the equipment and have your
own vessel or at least gain access to the use of one, you will have
spent quite a bit of money and some might even say comparable to a
small business loan. It definitely is a commitment but being
able to lobster dive and participate in metal detecting, shipwreck
diving and the myriad of other activities only available to divers
it will all have been
I learned how to lobster from one of the true master Captain Steve Bielenda, who owns the charter boat Wahoo out of Captree State Park. For several years Steve and I would drop off on the way back in from an off shore dive to hunt bugs on wrecks like the
Dodger, Hylton Castle,
Kenosha or the Reggie. I would quickly scout around, light in hand looking deep into every hole. Catching a bag full of lobsters on each dive. With in a few seasons I knew where the good holes were on each wreck and could consistently catch decent sized bugs. Steve not only taught me where to look but that you had to be unafraid if you were going to be successful. If you hesitated to long or were afraid of getting bit you would most likely miss the bug. I even remember doing some pretty stupid things just to catch lobsters. Like taking my tanks off to squeeze inside a wreck while on a night dive. Walking over a half mile with twin tanks to the Shoreham Jetties to go lobstering. Or letting a small bug bite my hand in order to maneuver my other hand in position to catch it. Lobstering in itself is a fascinating sport but it can not be learned by reading any books or articles. In order to become a good Lobster Diver you have practice. Itís also pretty easy to judge once you've become successful, itís when your wife, kids are all sick of eating lobster.
Although its not an obsession anymore, Lobstering is still an important part of my own diving enjoyment. On most dives I just catch the bugs that I casually observe, but at least one or twice each season I have to leave the cameras on board and I ask Steve to drop me back off on one of those productive wrecks for a little lobster mania.
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