Hoop nets such as the Promar Ambush ($29.99, bajafishgear.com) have conical designs with a wide ring at the base and a slightly smaller ring above, supported by a series of stays.
Bait cages ($5.69, pacificedgetackle.com) tie-wrapped to the center of the net keep lobsters from stealing the bait. A small buoy floats the polypropylene harness above the net.
A main poly line connects the harness to a pot buoy. Obviously, you need to make sure there’s enough line to reach the bottom. Lobsters dwell in waters as shallow as a few feet to depths of 150 feet or more.
Also, hoop-netters often light their buoys by drilling each with a half-inch hole for pressing in a Cyalume glow stick. Numbering the buoys helps boaters keep track of which nets are producing the best. Most hoop-netters pull the nets by hand, but it’s legal to employ motorized winches. Other items that prove helpful include:
Gloves for hauling nets and handling lobsters.
Rain gear and rubber boots to fend off the water and bait slime.
Lobster measuring gauge (required by California regulations).
An LED headlight to spot buoys and provide hands-free illumination while measuring lobsters.
California spiny lobster fishing is highly regulated. For a full rundown, visit the California Department of Fish and Game website (dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/lobster.asp). In the meantime, here are some of the basic regulations.
For an adult (16 years or older) to legally hoop-net for lobsters off southern California, the following is required:
-California state sport-fishing license with an ocean enhancement stamp ($49.99/year, dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols).
-California state lobster report card ($9.21/year, dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols).
-Measuring gauge ($4.95, amazon.com).
Other Key Regs:
-Maximum number of hoop nets per person is five, with a per-boat maximum of 10 (no matter how many are aboard).
-Minimum legal size is 3 1/4 inches lengthwise from the slot between the horns to the rear edge of the carapace.
-Maximum daily limit is seven legal lobsters per person.
-All lobsters must be transported whole.