The Backstory & Lodging:
Every year the Florida commercial lobster season ends on March 15th and reopens in early August 1st for traps and harvesting. This little break gives the lobster population a chance to spawn, tend to their eggs, and create the next generation of tasty crustaceans. It also is a time for lobster movement, often from deeper waters to the shallower reef systems inshore, where food is plentiful and the habitat offers a lot of great hiding places. The last contiguous Wednesday and Thursday of July every year are reserved for recreational divers and boaters to get first dibs on all the spiny lobsters that have been spawning all spring and summer before the commercial fisheries set their lobster traps. This very special time of the year, as far as the lobster hunters are concerned, is called the ‘mini-season.’ For two days people from around the country descend down to the Florida coastline to try their best efforts at catching Spiny Lobster. Although anyone with a Florida saltwater fishing license and a “crawfish stamp” can hunt for lobster during the open season, most non-locals come down only for mini-season. Late July in Florida is a recreational divers Mecca and a frenzy unmatched on the local waterways and reefs during the rest of the year – think the opening day of buck season in upstate PA, just with a lot less snow!
For the past fifteen plus years, Team IVS divers have traveled from points near and far to take part in Lobster Mini-Season. The size and popularity of the IVS Lobster Mini-Season group have grown steadily over the years starting with just a few people in the early 2000’s to full boats of hunter/gatherers the past few years. This year, IVS has combined the two days of Lobster Mini-Season with a day of Shark Frenzy adventure, conveniently preceded by a weekend of leisurely shore, reef & wreck diving in Boca Raton, for the option to round out a complete week of summertime diving. See the Boca Raton / Blue Heron Bridge trip flyer for more info on the earlier trip.
Our accommodations for this trip will be in one of several local hotels that are conveniently located near our diving activities. Check-in is Monday evening, breakfast is included, lunches are provided on the boat daily, and there are plenty of options for great dinners and drinks at reasonable prices. Fly into Fort Lauderdale, Miami or West Palm Beach, where ever you get the best airfare, and join us for this fun, laid back and excitingly different diving opportunity
On Thursday evening, after the conclusion of the lobster hunting, we’ve rented a luxury villa in Boca Raton complete with pool, outdoor patio, grilles, fire pit, and everything else needed for a lobster fest BBQ. Everyone joining us should eat like kings (and queens!) and are guaranteed to have a fantastic time.
Finally, on Friday morning, we’ll head home, smiling, bellies full, and ready for next year’s lobster adventure!
Monday night we check-in, and make sure to pick up your tanks at one of the local operators. We recommend Force E Scuba, with locations in both Boca Raton (near our lodging) and in Jupiter (near our diving). Our day starts early on Tuesday morning with a run up to the Jupiter Inlet, where we’ll board our boat and head offshore with the very colorful Capt. Randy Jordan and Emerald Charters. If you like to see big animals, this is the operator to go with. Randy will drop us right on wrecks literally teeming with huge Goliath Groupers, and then he’ll pull out the bait buckets and watch the feeding frenzy explode! Sharks of a number of varieties have grown accustomed to the dinner bell of Randy’s boat, so they come a’running when his anchor drops in. Make sure the batteries are charged and there’s room on your camera’s SD card because you are going to need it! A box lunch will be served on board, and we are planning a 3-tank full day on the water before we head back in. There are some specific rules and considerations to follow on these shark dives, so please contact the shop or refer to the Emerald Charters website for more details.
Wednesday is much the same, with the difference being we are dropping on top of the reefs in search of lobster. Prepare to drift dive and make sure your DSMB deployment skills are up to snuff, as they might be called into action at the end of each dive. We will be diving under a commercial saltwater fishing license, so no need to purchase your own Florida license. We’ll make three drops in three different locations each day to help ensure we are as successful as possible. We’ll make sure to get our tanks refilled that evening for the next days diving.
Thursday follows suit, and after returning tanks, rinsing gear, and getting cleaned up, we’ll convene at the Boca villa for our lobster fest BBQ to wrap up another fantastic adventure together!
Downloadable Trip Flyer: Florida – Jupiter – Sharks & Lobster_July_2020