How to Start Lobster Fishing

How to Start Lobster Fishing
Get ready to melt some butter and start a pot boiling. With some practice and time, you can go out and catch you own lobsters for a backyard feed. There are two common methods of fishing for lobster on a small and personal level: dive down into the deeps and spear fish for them or drop lobster traps and pots, and make a schedule to go and check your catch. Either method you choose, be sure to have some friends on speed dial for your self-found lobster feast.


Difficulty: Moderate

Traps & Pots Method

Things You’ll Need:
  • State fishing licenses
  • Lobster traps or pots
  • Hand held nylon rope or cord, 5mm and 100 feet in length
  • White trap and pot buoys
  • Sharpie
  • Cans of cat food
  • Boat
  • Cooler full of ice
  • Rocks or broken brick pieces
  • Optional:
  • Scuba diving gear
  • Spear gun or hand-held fishing spear
  • Rubber gloves
  • Mesh fish bag
Step 1
Purchase the necessary state or local lobster licenses. Some states require a special lobster stamp as well as a standard license, so be sure to check with the proper authorities to get your permits.
Step 2
Boat out to the areas along the coast where there are reefs, shoals or where you know the ocean floor is sandy and gravelly. You can use other lobster trap buoys as indicators for good lobstering grounds. Open a can of wet cat food. Remove the top and scoop out a large quantity of the moist food and place it in the trap's wire ball.
Step 3
Place two or three rocks or brick pieces in the trap along with the wire ball full of cat food. Tie the nylon cord to the trap or pot handle using an Improved Clinch knot. Drop the trap(s) overboard and hold onto the nylon rope with your hands. Keep gloves on during this process to prevent rope burns.
Step 4
Write an identifying name or code number on your buoys with a marker. Tie the buoy to the trap line using a drop loop. Push the buoy overboard. If you have a GPS or depth finder on your boat, drop a waypoint so you can find your buoys with ease on the return check-up trip. Drop as many traps as you wish using this method Try using three to four on your first few outings.
Step 5
Go back to check your traps after 24 hours. Don't wait any longer, as any trapped lobsters will begin to fight with each other, killing and damaging themselves. Pull the traps up, wearing gloves, using a hand-over-hand rope retrieval method. Reach in and remove any lobsters, placing them into the cooler full of ice to keep them fresh until you reach shore.

Spear Fishing Method

Step 1
Suit up with your wetsuit and scuba gear. Set your spear gun for the lobster. If using a hand-held spear, place it to the side of the boat until you reach the fishing grounds. For safety reasons, keep a rubber cap over the spear until you're ready to dive. Boat out to the lobster grounds.
Step 2
Dive with a buddy. Have your buddy check your scuba setup and do the same for your buddy. Dive into the water together and remain in visual contact. Have a prearranged set of hand signals established so you can communicate underwater.
Step 3
Dive down to the bottom and look for small spurts of sand being "spit" upwards or sideways. These indicate the presence of spooked lobster. Get close and use your spear gun. Try and land the spear into the upper back of the lobster. If using a hand-held spear, get close and then jab it into the lobster and retrieve quickly.
Step 4
Pull the lobster in toward you. Pull the lobster off the spear and place in your mesh fish bag. Because spear fishing for lobster is done in warmer waters, keep your eyes out for sharks and other predators as the blood may attract them. Assign you or your partner to be on the lookout while the other goes for more lobster.
Step 5
Put the lobsters into the ice in the cooler when back on the boat to keep them fresh until you reach shore.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.