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TOP TEN HOOP NETTING

DO’s and DON’Ts

Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 25, 2008

Top Ten Hoop Netting DO’s and DON’Ts:
BY JIM SALAZAR

The season is here, and knowing what to do for success and avoiding mistakes will put more bugs in your basket, so to speak. There’s more to know of course. You could write a book about all it. Which is what I did, but in case you haven’t picked up a copy at a local tackle store, here’s what to do, and whatnot to do while  bugging with hoops!

DOs:

1.     Use fresh bait and fill your bait cages to the max. The more blood and chum your bait puts out the easier it will be for the lobsters to find your nets. Save yourself some money and catch your own bait. Use a Sabiki or Lucky Joe bait rig with a Sabiki Stick to catch your own mackerel. Save all your tuna trimmings and cut offs from your late summer fishing trips.

2.    Light your marker floats with chemical light sticks or the new Promar waterproof Led light sticks with replaceable batteries. Use some DOT-type reflective tape to personalize your floats and also make them easier to find out on that dark ocean.

3.    Use a Scotty Trap-Ease, the Red Riser, or some other manual puller to save your back and your rub-rail or gel coat. Using one of the pulley systems will make pulling the new heavier Eclipse/Conical nets a lot easier on your back and shoulders. Using a power puller like the Ace Line Hauler can make those really deep pulls a lot easier and they also work great for those individuals with physical disabilities that still want to get out there and hoop.

4.    Stop your nets from hop scotching on the bottom by adding Hoop Net Heavies to the lower ring. When the current or wind is really ripping your floats and nets are being pushed and can start bouncing or hop scotching along the bottom. This bouncing of the nets can scare the lobsters and crabs out of the nets. Adding the Hoop Net Heavies or torpedo sinker weights can keep the nets  down  and the lobsters in them.

5.     Pull as fast as you can. Use that water pressure to force the bugs to the bottom of the net and keep them there until it reaches the surface. Slowing down or stopping part way up flattens out the net and gives the lobsters and crabs the opportunity to make their escape.

6.     Check your nets for unwanted guests before bringing it over the gunnels and onto the deck. Be sure to look under the kelp for a hiding sculpin, moray eel or stingray before reaching in there to get rid of it.

7.    Be sure to release the larger female bugs, especially if they are “plastered” with a sperm packet. This packet looks like a grey piece of bubble gum stuck to the underside of the carapace.  These female lobsters have mated and they will be producing eggs soon.  Female lobsters produce eggs exponentially for their size. An 8-inch bug will produce about 5,000 eggs while a lobster twice that size will produce not twice as many, but in fact, 10 times as many eggs or about 50,000 eggs. So let the big gals go!

8.    Use headlamps and spotlights. The LED headlamps save your night vision since you don’t have to turn on the deck or cabin lights. The spotlight makes it really easy to find your reflective tape on your floats and also to see the other floats in the area you’re working.

9.    Bring some friends to share the fun and the limits of bugs. There are a lot of
     folks who have grown up in Southern California and have no idea how prolific the
     local lobster resource is. Show them a fun new sport, but be ready for a new best
     friend once they taste our delicious local spiny lobsters and crabs.
 
10. Bring lots of luck and a positive attitude with you and have fun!


DON’TS:
 
1.    Don’t get wet. Be sure to bring some foul weather gear. At the beginning of the season we can have some of those beautiful, warm Indian summer nights, but by mid-December and January it’s darn cold out there on the water at night. Don’t kid yourself. It’s a wet sport. The water just shoots off the rope as you pull up your nets as fast as you can, so wearing a full rain suit including a pair of bibbed pants can keep you warm and toasty on those cold nights. Layering is the best way to go and the poly-pro pants and tops under the rainwear can really wick the water away and keep you dry and comfortable. Be sure to bring some extra clothes to change into when you get off the water.

2.    Don’t lose count of your legal lobsters caught. A slight miscount can mean a big fine for being over-limit. I use a dry erase board to keep track of the number of legal bugs kept and where we’re catching them throughout the night. At the end of the night I transfer this and the conditions info into a trip log ( similar to the trip log pages at the end of my new book “Hoopin’ It Up” ). At the end of the season when reviewing the trip logs you’ll start to see some patterns that will make next season more productive.

3.    Don’t tell anyone where your Honey Hole is. Rocks don’t move.  Don’t post the exact location of your epic catches on the internet boards, unless you want to be sharing that hot spot with 30 of your “closest internet friends”  the next evening.

“Two people can only keep a secret if one of them is dead…Loose lips sink ships”.
4.    Don’t drop a net until you are ready. Make sure the rope isn’t around your neck or leg.  
      Make sure you untie the tangles and knots of your 75 feet of rope or it may become   
      just 50’ long as you watch that light stick and float sink and then glow 20 feet below
      the surface.

5.    Don’t hoop too close to the breakwall or structure especially on those rough nights as the tide is falling. Don’t put yourself or your crew in danger. If the bnugs are
       hungry they’ll find your bait and walk out of  their dens to your waiting nets.

6.    Don’t get a rope caught in your prop. This is the most dangerous and common mishap while hooping and it can be the most costly. Have an emergency plan with your crew. Make sure they know where the ditch bag and lifejackets are. If they are able to, show them how to deploy the anchor or how to send a mayday to the Coast Guard or Harbor Patrol on Channel 16.  Having a safety meeting with your crew before departing is the best way to be ready to handle any emergency while on the water.

7.    Don’t lose the number to Cal-Tip, 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (1-888-334-2258).  If you see any lobster or crab poaching, try to get a vehicle license number or the vessels CF numbers. That will really help the DFG apprehend the poacher. The DFG is severely undermanned in the field so anything you can do to help protect the resource is much appreciated by all hoopers and divers.

8.    Don’t forget your fishing license with a saltwater stamp and the new Lobster Report Card. Remember to fill out the card before you begin hoopnetting each evening with the date, location, and gear type and then remember to fill in the number of lobsters retained before returning to the dock.

9.    Don’t hoop in closed areas. The heavily trafficked areas in most harbors are off limits to hoop netting because the floats and ropes can become a navigational hazard. Many parts of Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego Harbors have been closed to hooping due to security measures since 9-11. If you aren’t sure of the closures in your area, call the local harbor patrol and ask them. The DFG California Regulations 2008-2009 Ocean Sport Fishing booklet has the Marine Protected areas and special closures listed for Ventura county to San Diego county on pages 64 to 67. Be sure to read them closely as there are many closures where fin-fish may be allowed and crustaceans are prohibited or vice-versa. Ignorance is no excuse for the law and the fines can be steep so keep yourself informed.
10.    Don’t lose your cool.  Remember it’s just lobster hooping. You are out to have a good time and maybe come home with some delicious eats. Rise above the petty arguments between other hoopers and divers while out on the water and remember to enjoy yourself.
            Talk to the other hoop netters in the area. Share some info and friendliness, you
            just might learn something, like whether that particular area is producing or what
            bait and depth is working best that evening.

Jim Salazar is a popular seminar speaker, a prop mar pro staffer and author of a new book on bagging bugs with hoops.



























































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