What to Look For
These bugs love nooks and crannies where they can clamber inside and hide. That’s why breakwaters and jetties of harbors such as Ventura, Channel Islands, Marina del Rey, Redondo, Long Beach, Dana Point and others are so productive.
Lobsters also dwell within kelp-covered rocks and reefs, as well as in the rotting hulks of wrecks that dot the southern California coast and offshore islands. Yet many kelp lines, rock piles and wrecks are already lined by commercial lobster traps. Commercial pressure significantly reduces the recreational catch rate on a given spot, and so the key is to look for areas where commercial fishing is prohibited or less prevalent.
That’s why breakwaters and jetties are popular; commercial lobster pots are largely prohibited close to these walls, because the lines and buoys pose navigational hazards. That leaves the lobsters to recreational guys. Plus breakwaters and jetties are easy to find.
“Kelp lines are also easy to find,” said Capt. Mark Wisch, who has run hoop-netting charters out of Huntington Harbour, California, for the past few years. “The most productive kelp lines are on the lee side of Catalina Island and in Santa Monica Bay, particularly from Malibu Point to Rocky Point, where commercial lobster fishing is prohibited.”
The hoop nets, baited with oily fish such as mackerel, are set along the edges of rocks, reefs and kelp lines in the hope that the scent will entice lobsters to leave their sanctuaries and crawl into the net to feast.