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    August 31, 2008

    Swim At Honeymoon Cove / Debriefing At Old Marineland

    It must have been the three day weekend or the reports of increasing swells, but only me, Reverend Al, TwinDuct, Bob W. and SCJoe showed up at Old Marineland to dive.

    Pretty Flat, but looking green

    The ocean was pretty flat, but the water looked really green.

    After some debate, we packed up to check out Honeymoon Cove and Malaga Cove.

    The Group Checks Out Honeymoon Cove

    The group gave Honeymoon a thumbs up for a dive.

    Realizing there are no soles on the bottom of my dive boots, and thinking back to the last time I dove here, I decided to do shore support.

    The group geared up; I packed my camera and beer for the wonderful trip down the goat trail.

    The first lip off the cliff is tough, especially with SCUBA gear.

    The first lip off the cliff is tough, especially with SCUBA gear.

    Reverend Al sits at his beach house.

    Some locals made a nice beach house for shade.

    The house was decorated with a modern castaway theme.

    The house was decorated in a modern castaway theme.

    The group departs for their dive.

    The group departs for their dive…

    While I DMed.

    …while I Divemastered the event, a very important part of every dive.

    Just something to note, at the shore, my cell phone only had reception at the water’s edge.

    Dennis G. and his wife came down for a swim.

    I was getting so damn hot sitting on shore, I actually took off everything except my shorts and went for a swim.

    I went for a swim.

    No wetsuit, no fins, no mask, but the water was so nice and warm – 69 degrees Fahrenheit!

    An hour later, the dive group emerged.

    An hour later, the dive group emerged.

    Dennis told his wife, “We better climb the hill now, before it gets all muddy.”

    The fun part begins!

    The walk up…

    Some people without tanks have a hard time going up this hill.

    Some people without tanks and weights have a hard time going up this hill.

    One wrong move could send someone plunging to their death.

    One wrong move could send someone plunging to their death.

    Reverend Al takes the tail end of the convoy.

    Reverend Al takes the tail end of the convoy.

    They did an hour dive, no deeper than 40 feet; vis was a spectacular 20 feet that varied depending on location.

    We decided since the Palos Verdes Estates Police are so bored, it would be safer to debrief at the Old Marineland.

    I headed out first to start the grill; Instructor Ed was to meet us there.

    The debriefing crew.

    The debriefing crew… from  left to right, TwinDuct, Bob W., Me, Instructor Ed and Reverend Al.

    Dive Bum Don, Cyber the Attack Dog and my brother meandered in over the next hour.

    A group from Encino stopped by to check out the site; I gave them a tour.

    Cyber The Attack Dog guards the Duster.

    Cyber The Attack Dog guards the Duster and the last of the beer.

    Cyber The Attack Dog threatens to bite Instructor Ed.

    Cyber the Attack Dog threatens to bite Instructor Ed over the last Budweiser.

    There’s suppose to be a big party at Long Point next Sunday; two people’s birthdays and possibly my 300th logged SCUBA dive.

    No diving for me today, but the swim felt good; I noticed that I am so fat, that even without a wetsuit on, I can’t help but float.

    August 26, 2008

    The Basics Of California Lobster Hunting On SCUBA

    Since this will be my third straight season of lobster hunting on SCUBA, I have decided to share some important advise and tips on how to make your lobster hunting trips more successful and keep the Department Of Fish And Game off your back.

    I am breaking this in to a two part series.

    This week are the basics that a lot of readers already know; next week will be the secrets of success.

    When To Hunt

    Lobster season starts at 12:01 AM the Saturday before the first Wednesday in October and runs until the next Wednesday after the 15th of March.

    For the 2008 season, the season runs from 12:01 AM on September 27, 2008 until 11:59 PM, March 18, 2009.

    Lobsters are nocturnal; they hide in rocks and reefs during the day and come out at night to seek food.

    So, diving at night is a necessity for successful lobster hunting.

    Yes, you can hunt during the day, but it requires a lot more luck and effort.

    A lobster hides

    When the sun’s out, you’ll be digging into holes that are shared by eels and sometimes disassembling portions of the reef – not worth it in my opinion.

    Make Sure You Are Properly Equipped

    Aside from your standard SCUBA gear, you’ll need:

    • A heavy duty pair of thick nylon gloves.

    Even though spiny lobsters have no claws, if you pin them or hold them incorrectly, their tail can wrap around your hand and the spikes can puncture your skin; the “bulls” also are able to inflict a painful bite.

    • Be sure to obtain a current California Fishing license, with an “Ocean Enhancement” stamp along with a “lobster report card” – something new this season.

    • A good underwater halogen light and a reserve light; good lights pay for themselves by catching more lobsters.

    Rechargeable batteries will also be good to your budget in the long run.

    • A lobster gauge for measuring the carapace.

    A lobster gauge mounted on a light.

    I have one that fits on my light; I can measure the lobster and hold my light with one hand.

    A spring loaded lobster bag.

    • A good, spring loaded lobster bag that you can open with one hand, that stays closed by default, and a cheaper “holding bag” to keep your lobsters in between dives.

    Basically, with a lobster in your hunting hand, you want to plan to do everything else with your other hand – measure, open your bag and insert.

    Know How To Stay Legal

    Observe the rules on how to catch lobsters and you should stay out of trouble…

    First, the obvious – hunt only during lobster season!

    • Have your fishing license with the proper endorsements within 500 feet of you when diving from a boat or shore.

    • You must catch lobster with your hands; spearing or netting them while diving is illegal.

    How to measure a lobster.

    • The carapace of the lobster must be at least 3 1/4 inches long.

    Rule of thumb, if the lobster looks like it’s probably legal, throw it back; if it feels like you’re grabbing a beer can, bag it!

    • You must carry your lobster measuring device with you while you dive; all lobsters must be measured in the water and released unharmed if under sized.

    • The bag limit for a 24 hour period is seven legal lobsters; “trading up” is illegal.

    • Even in season, it is illegal to take “egg bearing” female lobsters; “egg bearing” females will have a swollen underside.

    • You must keep your lobsters whole while at sea, although I have also heard they must remain whole until eaten.

    • As a recreational lobster hunter, you cannot sell your catch; I give many tails away during the season and tend to have a lot of friends at that time.

    Make Sure You Are Physically And Mentally Prepared

    Night time SCUBA diving freaks a lot of people out; every passing sea lion might look like a shark, every piece of kelp may look like an electric ray.

    A first time night diver described the experience as “very claustrophobic.”

    Make sure you have done a few “for fun” night dives to get comfortable with the concept.

    Lobster hunters also make really crappy dive buddies; be sure you are self reliant underwater.

    Be sure you are physically able to perform the tasks at hand, whether it be shore diving or boat diving.

    Eat a good meal before hand to provide you enough energy; the crap about not eating an hour before you swim is a wives’ tale.

    Pin Lobsters, Don’t Grab Them

    So what happens when your light hits a traveling lobster that’s out foraging for food?

    Personally, I move my light off to the side, towards the back, swim up and pin (NOT GRAB) the lobster by it’s carapace.

    Pin it against the ground, which can be tricky depending on the terrain.

    Hesitation, waiting, thinking and positioning yourself for too long will cause the lobster to flee.

    You have to develop the skill of spotting them, approaching them and pinning them in a matter of a few seconds.

    Lobsters crawl forward looking for food very slowly, but in a panic, they flap their tail and swim rapidly backwards to avoid danger.

    If you don’t have a good grip on them, their tail will propel themselves out of your hand.

    Yes, they use their spiny tail as a defense also; grab them at the tail, and you might pay in a few puncture wounds.

    Lobster Hunting Verbage

    Bug – Another term for a lobster.

    Bull – Large, even huge lobsters that can bite…

    A 'bull' compared to a 'legal' lobster

    From left to right, a “bull” compared to a “legal” lobster.

    DFG! – When you hear this, make sure you don’t have any illegal catch.

    Opening Night – The morning lobster season opens.

    It’s actually Saturday morning, but hunters show up Friday night; so, they call it “opening night.”

    Short – Your lobster is too small; not legal. Throw it back.

    Next Week: Where To Go, Boat Tips, Shore Diving Tips and other lobster hunting secrets!

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