How to catch a lobster with a tickle stick

Originally published at: How to catch a lobster with a tickle stick | Boing Boing


Few bother with trapping them recreationally because commercial lobsterers are territorial. At best the good spots are a local secret. Should you find one they’ll steal or cut loose your traps. At worst they’ll lie in wait and make sure you don’t try it again.

We got my dad a lobster pot about a decade back, thinking he might want to toss it in the inlet nearby to see what comes up. He refused to try, saying it wasn’t worth the conflict. It makes a nice coffee table for the deck.

In terms of diving for lobster, the tickle stick is for getting them out of narrow crevices. It’s not all that hard to barehand a lobster as they can’t really lift their claws above their head too far. So the idea is you slide your hand, held flat, above the lobster and grab them by the base of the thorax. But if there’s not a lot of room, this is unwise. You don’t want fingers jutting in where they can reach.

Never done it myself, but my uncle used to use a very long screw driver.


“The Fish Locker” channel on YouTube shows how to hook Lobster. Rules in Old England differ from New England I’m sure.

Also shows how to cook everything too


These tickle sticks are illegal to use in California.

From the FAQ of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What are the legal methods of take for spiny lobster? Can I use a “tickle stick” to coax a lobster from its hiding spot?
According to CCR T14, Section 29.80(a) and (b), spiny lobster may only be taken by hand or by hoop net. You cannot use any other devices to take or assist in taking lobster - this includes “tickle sticks” or other similar appliances used to coax a lobster from its hiding spot. For the legal definition of a hoop net, see CCR T14, Section 29.80(b)(1) in the California Saltwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.


Now I want to hear a parody version of Ian Dury’s song Rhythm Stick, but it’s Tickle Stick…


it is spiny lobster season here in the Conch right now.
spinies don’t have claws, so not so daunting to grab. also, the tickle sticks we use have a slip loop through them that you can use to cinch around the bug’s tail and pull them out.
ALL lobsters must be measured in the water before putting in the boat. lobster must be 3.25"/8.25cm measured from rostrum (nose) to back of carapace. during lobster season, fisherfolk need to expect to be boarded by FWC and/or MCSO, or other LEO to have catch inspected. shorts will be cited and fines can be as much as $500/short bug. (sidenote: I have sat on juries for folks caught with undersize lobsters. you don’t want to go there.).
still, we hear about it every gotdamn weekend. some idiots try to take more than 6/ person and short bugs - and get caught!
I go out for lobster - in season - and it is great fun! also love to grill them up with plenty of butter and lime!
anyway, yeah, tickle sticks! but NO spears!


Tickle huh? Seems more like a bother rod top me.

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I’ve never gotten why spears are a thing in the first place. Lobster starts to break down the minute it dies, it’s own digestive tract starting to liquify the meat.

So spear fishing them just ruins it.


which is exactly why you keep them alive on ice in the boat. you don’t wring 'em until time to cook (or freeze - we vacuum seal and put in the deep freeze).
but, wrung tails onboard will get you busted by FWC just like a short.


Yep. We have a device with a curved tip that we call a “tickle stick.” We don’t use it for lobster–the batteries would short out.


I under stand that. But if you blast a hole in them they aren’t going to stay alive long how ever you store them.


in all respect, was I not clear that spearing was wrong? it is illegal, absolutely ruins the catch and… illegal.

sorry. it just seems we have miscommunicated. we appear to be saying the same thing.

edit: if it is the “tickle stick” that is the confusion,
the tickle stick is most assuredly not a spear.

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Was it not clear that I was pondering why it was a thing in the first place? By the fact that I said “in the first place”. It’s a thing people do, and is not illegal everywhere. And was formerly common enough to get banned in the US.

It’s just not a very good way to take lobster. Unless you eat it immediately, you’ve probably just ruined the lobster. Given it mostly seems to be a thing with spiny lobster, it doesn’t seem like it’d be any easier or more reliable than just picking them up either.

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