Key Largo Lobster Mini-Season score just in – Bugs 0, IVS 106

 

To call this years two-day Florida Sport Lobster season amazing would be an serious understatement!  Team IVS kicked lobster butt as we caught 106 keepers over the course of the two day sport season, held every year on the last two contiguous Wednesday & Thursday of July. 

We chartered the entire Garden Cove Divers fleet for the entire season, scheduling four 2-tank trips each day.  Yours truly worked as the first mate for Captain Anna on the boat for all dives on both days, ensuring another spot for Team IVS on each trip.  Starting at 4:00 a.m., Mike Conn, Bill Zyskowski, Gary Kai, Dave Hartman, Frank Gabriel & Tricia Healy loaded scuba tanks and hunting gear into the boat, and headed up, geared up and ready to splash at the exact minute that the season open in Monroe County, where Key Largo is located.  The season opens one hour before legal sunrise, and ends each day one hour after legal sunset.  So that translates into 5:47 for this morning, and the divers hit the water the moment the clock struck that hour.  Underwater, the lights were flashing and dancing about, spotlighting the prey as they scurried for cover in the reef system.  Snares, tickle sticks, nets and skilled hands worked in tandem to put eighteen ‘bugs’ in the bags over the course of the next sixty minutes.  What a way to kick it off!  This was followed by dive two for the first team, adding another 11 bugs to the count.  After that it was back to the dock, swap out tanks, and have team two board the boat.

Our second team included Jason & Sandy Stelle, Sue Douglass, Shelly Liu, Judy Jaskiewicz, and Tricia Healy again.  This location proved to be a mere shadow of our first spot, producing a lowly 4 bugs total over two 1-hour dives.  Then back to the dock, switching out to team 3, including Bev & Butch Loggins, Brenden Malloy, Don Yowell, John Glowdowski, and Tricia Healy (again!)  We headed out to a different reef spot and although better, still only managed to produce 6 bugs total for the cooler.  Of course by now the reef was filled wth boats and lobster hunters as far as the eyes could see, an amazing number of grabby hands competing with us for the succulent lobsters we sought.  Finally the night crew boarded, same guys as morning shift plus Ray Graff.  Of course, as is customary with most IVS trips, the engine started to falter and the hatch cover was opened up, and our multi-talented Captain Anna crawled right in there, twisting wrenches and making adjustments until the Caterpillar diesel roared back to life.  Great job Anna!  Finally we motored out, and after a false start on a patch of grass that was supposed to be a reef, we re-positioned and nailed another dozen keepers for the evening, ending our hunting at exactly one hour after legal sunset.

The alarm rang all too early for the morning shift again, and there we were at 4;00 a.m., loading tanks and slipping into still-wet wetsuits to head out for another days hunt.  Another strong start for the day, with 22 bugs in the cooler as we came back to the dock.  Team 2 jumped on board, and put another 13 in the bag.  Meanwhile, Bill Z couldn’t nap after the morning trip, so he threw on snorkel gear and went out in the bay behind the Amoray Dive Resort, nailing another couple of bugs from their roosts and adding them to the count.   Team 3 continued the picked up pace, adding twenty more to the catch total.  Finally, the night crew headed out, and after sharing some of the catch with the captain and some of the helpful locals, we ended up with another 8 in the bag, bringing our two day total to 106 spiny lobsters!   Another late evening of cleaning bugs at the dock and bagging them for the freezer, and we were off to the Paradise Pub for a celebration dinner.  Way to go teams!

Be sure to visit the IVS site to see the pictures from this trip! [add link]

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