2016 Lobster Mini-Season

Florida Lobsters

Catching Lobsters In the Florida Keys. Here the Guys of Dream Catcher Charters pose with their catch.

Sportsman Season, a.k.a. Lobster Mini-season, takes place on the last Wednesday and Thursday in July.  This annual two day event, during which properly licensed snorkeler and/or diver are allowed to take up to six legal sized lobsters per day in Monroe County waters, typically brings around 25,000 visitors to the Florida Keys and Key West.

Lobster Mini-season allows for lobster lovers to spend time on the water trying to catching a few crustaceans before the opening of the regular lobster season which starts on August 6th. While it can be a good time on the water, please make sure to follow the rules and be safety conscious. FWC officers will be patrolling on and off the water during mini season, and you will see about twice as many officers as usual on duty. In addition, undercover agents and police dogs trained to sniff out lobsters will be around to enforce the strict rules protecting the area.

To get you started, check out the FWC brochure on Lobster regulations: FWC_spinylobster_brochure. Please do not forget to use a dive flag and dive or snorkel with a buddy. And if I find any of you diving in the canal in front of my house for lobsters (which is not only rude but illegal by the way) you will be getting the stink eye from me as I put in a call to the local law enforcement agencies to have you arrested.

After catching your lobsters, check out some of our recipes, as we have some great ideas for preparing Florida Spiny Lobster. You can also take your lobsters to one of the local restaurant that will cook your catch and they will be happy to prepare them for you; check out my restaurant reviews.

Coming up, Lobsterfest is a must attend event for lobster fans! Several local restaurants set up booths all down Duval Street and serve up lobster in a variety of ways. Even Indiana Bones loves going downtown for Lobsterfest!

To see what else is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge

East Martello Fort & Museum

A cannon at the East Martello Fort.

A cannon at the East Martello Fort.

I have lived in the Keys since the 1990’s, and in all if this time I had never been inside the East Martello Fort and Museum until this past weekend. Located next to the Key West International Airport and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is easy to find. Before I visited the only thing that I new about the Fort was that it was built during the Civil War and that it houses the creepy Robert the Doll, and that fact did not excite me.  But I decided to check it out with my Dad this weekend before he flew back home to New Jersey. It was Halloween after all, and what better time is there for creepy than that!?

The East Martello Fort was actually built in 1862. It has walls that are eight feet thick made of brick and granite. Like the other Forts on the island, this one never experienced a hostile assault, and it was already rendered obsolete even before the Civil War was over due to new munitions that would be able to go right through this brick and granite edifice.

The courtyard of the East Martello Fort and Museum.

The courtyard of the East Martello Fort and Museum.

I love the old, brick facade. It really draws one’s attention. Inside it is an old Fort that now houses (besides Robert the Doll) many Key West artifacts and lots of historical island information. There is also a cute little gift shop that sells books and other trinkets including Robert the Doll replicas that you can all be sure that I did not purchas

Exhibits were wide ranging in subject matter, all relating to Key West of course. Key West’s military history with the Spanish American War, WWI and WWII, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Sponging. Salting. Diving. Fishing. Wrecking. Cigar manufacturing. Aviation. And then there is the weird with not only Robert the Doll but also Count Von Cosel (aka Carl Tanzler) and his Norman Bates-like obsession with the beautiful local girl Elena.

The Fort also serves as an art gallery, displaying some of the folk art of Mario Sanchez and a sculpture garden filled with works by Stanley Papio.

Here are two of the many sculptures located outside at the East Martello Fort and Museum.

Here are two of the many sculptures located outside at the East Martello Fort and Museum.

I found that while interesting, the “exhibits” lacked any orderly displays. It was basically like walking through a hodgepodge of Key West history all mixed up along with modern things like pressure washers that were left laying around by the museum staff. I was not really disappointed with my visit, but perhaps wishing that it was set up more professionally to draw in more folks.

East Martello Fort and Museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and it is closed on Christmas. Cost is $9 per adult and $5 per child. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and locals.

See what is happening on the island during your visit by checking out our Key West Events Calendar, and for other things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Before making your dining reservations for while in Key West check out our restaurant reviews!

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!
Island Genn
Key West Concierge

State Parks of Key West and the Florida Keys

Florida State Parks are a wonderful way to see the real Florida, and not the touristy theme parks and other attractions. Florida has some amazing wildlife and a rich history. The state has around 160 state run parks, and 10 of these are in the Florida Keys. As one can imagine, most of the State parks in the Keys have some sort of water actives to partake in such as kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling. But we also have historical monuments, biking in and hiking trails, picnicking areas, and many opportunities for wildlife viewing too.

  • Bahia Honda State Park – 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043
    This park is known for its beautiful beaches, snorkeling, and gorgeous sunsets. But these are just a fraction of the activities available for visitors to this park. Other activities include: bicycling, birding, boating, camping, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, scuba diving, swimming, and wildlife viewing. Anglers can fish from shore or bring a boat and launch it from the boat ramp. Snorkeling gear and kayaks can be rented on site. The visitors center is filled with interesting information as well as trinkets to bring home. And the concession stand serves some good grub too should you have forgotten your picnic basket. Full facility campsites and cabins are also available for rent. Admission charges vary.  The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
  • Curry Hammock State Park – 56200 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050
    This park is made up of a group of islands with public access to swimming, a playground, showers, grills, and a picnic area. This park is also home to one of the largest populations of thatched palm trees in the USA. Activities at Curry Hammock include a sandy beach for swimming, sunbathing, and playing in the sand, bicycling, camping, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Admission charges vary.  The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
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Mel Fisher, Key West Treasure Hunter

Mel Fisher was arguably the most famous treasure hunter in modern times. Probably because in 1985 he discovered the Atocha, a Spanish galleon that sank off of the Florida Keys in a hurricane in 1622. With over $450 million in treasures found so far from the wreck, including 40 tons of gold and silver, Pieces of Eight, emeralds, artifacts, and over 1000 bars of silver, Mel and his crew were known by everyone in our little island community.

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