Bully Netting: The Guide to Net More Spiny Lobster

Bully Netting, Bully Netting Lights, Lobstering, Spiny Lobster -

Bully Netting: The Guide to Net More Spiny Lobster

Bully netting lobster, namely the Florida Spiny Lobster, has grown into an industry of recreational and commercial fishermen competing with their bully net to get a limit of lobster tails. It’s crazy to think that lobster went from being a trash fish fed at prisons to now one of the most sought after crustaceans that crawl the sea floor. I must say - a boiled lobster tail topped off with melted butter can cause cravings that make any fisherman go crazy. 

Bully Netting Lobster with Swamp Eye HD Lights

The above photo shows a customer bully netting lobster with our Swamp Eye HD Lights. These bright lobstering lights allow you to adjust color from warm white to cool white for clear or muddy water. 

In the recent years, we've found bully netting for lobster at night to become more popular, primarily because day time bully netting requires scuba gear and jumping into sometimes muddy shark infested waters (especially in the beginning of the season when everyone is out). Bully netting at night with lights seems to be the safer, cheaper, and easier alternative to fill your bag with spiny lobster. If you don't believe me - check out this photo below a fellow bully netter sent us. Luckily he was in his boat when he saw this shark. 

bully netting lights

Where Do You Bully Net Lobster?

You can bully net lobster in the Florida Keys, California, and the Caribbean. Bully netters commonly use a hoop net or “bully net” to catch lobster. The rules and regulations vary from place to place, but there is typically a minimum carapace length requirement. The carapace is the dorsal (upper) shell of the exoskeleton of the spiny lobster.                          

What Time of Year is Best for Bully Netting?

The mini season for bully netting lobster opens up for two days; the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. The mini season opens at midnight (12:00 AM) on Wednesday morning and ends at 11:59 PM Thursday, or technically midnight Friday morning. 

Once the mini season is over, the regular commercial and recreational lobstering season starts August 6th and continues through the end of March. The limit in the Florida Keys is currently 6 spiny lobster per person in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, but 12 per person for the remainder of Florida. 

Rules and Regulations for Lobstering and Bully Netting

The most competitive time of the year to go bully netting is during the mini season and in the beginning months of bully netting season. As the season goes on, we've found that bully netting for lobster at night is the best time to go. The lobster are out feeding in 1 to 4 feet of water, and a quality bully netting light will do a great job at lighting them up. This is the relatively dry alternative to scuba diving for lobster, and you get the added experience of seeing all the marine life lurking at night.  

What are the Best Bully Netting Lights?

Quality bully netting lights need to be bright and capable of penetrating through a variety of water conditions. The success rate of your bully netting trips will more often than not be determined by the quality of your bully netting lights and their ability to give you better visibility which leads to more opportunities to bully net lobster. The best bully netting lights have adjustable color tone to help increase visibility in both clear, cloudy, or even muddy waters. For more information on bully netting lights, we encourage you to check out this The Ultimate Lights for Bully Netting Lobster.  

best bully netting lights

What do I need to know to net more spiny lobster?

Bully netting for lobster at night with bright bully netting lights is the first start to net more spiny lobster. At night the lobster are in 1 to 4 ft of water, instead of 10 to 15 ft deep, making it far easier to net them.

Spiny lobster prefer to stay hidden in protected crevices and caverns of coral reefs, sponge flats, and other hard bottomed areas during the day time. At night, they are prowling in shallower waters looking for food. They will eat mostly anything, but their primary diet consists of snails, clams, crabs, and urchins. If you're able to find a good source of their diet during the day time, it is bound to be a good bully netting spot come night fall. The lobster will often retreat back to their protected cover in deep water several hours before the sun comes back up. It is relatively uncommon to find spiny lobster in the shallows during the day time. 

5 Key Tips for Bully Netting Lobster at Night

1.) Choose the right environment for where lobster hang out.

Lobster like to hang out around grass flats and grass beds. When bully netting at night, keep in mind you need to be shallow enough to be able to reach the lobster once you find them. The best environment for lobstering at night are shallow areas of grass flats and grass beds. 

2.) Once you locate the lobster, use a proper netting technique.

The biggest mistake amateur bully netters make when lobstering at night is they attempt to scoop up lobster in a sideways fashion. You should never do this, it greatly lessens the chance of you netting the lobster. You should always trap the lobster with your bullynet, allow the lobster to run into your net, and then lift vertically (up and down) to bring the lobster in the boat. Lobster can have quick bursts of speed to go side to side, but have a more difficult time going up and down. 

3.) If a lobster is out of reach, make sure one person on the boat keeps their eye on the lobster while you are relocating the boat to net the lobster. 

Lobster can easily blend into the grass beds and may not always be on the move, making them difficult to locate while bully netting. If you or someone on your boat spots a lobster out of reach, it's important to keep an eye on it until the boat is re-positioned to a place where you can net the lobster

4.) Don't skimp on lobstering lights, they are the most important tool in finding lobster. 

A wise commercial bully netter once told us "you can't net what you can't see", with that in mind it's important to do it right the first time when choosing your lobster bully netting lights. We recommend a 6000k submersible bully netting light such as the Swamp Eye Submersible Bully Netting Lights

5.) Make sure you follow all bully netting / hoop netting rules and regulations. 

Here are some of the most notable rules and regulations:

  • Lobster carapace must be greater than 3 inches to be harvested or possessed. 
  • Lobster tail can only be separated on land, tail must be greater than 5-1/2 inches in length. 
  • Egg-bearing (berried) lobster must be released unharmed, regardless of species. 

Lobster Bully Netting Rules and Regulations

Here is a complete guide to the FWC Regulations for bully netting / hoop netting.

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