Hoop Netting Video

How we do it in So. Cal…

Hoopnetting Safety

Hoop netting is dangerous. Many hazards contribute to the generally dangerous environment hoop netting takes place in. Operating a boat close to shore and/or rocks at night is a start. Now add several or perhaps dozens of floats all with varying amounts of floating rope attached to them. Some may be lit well with light sticks, reflective tape, or L.E.D. lights, others may be barely noticeable and unmarked. All of them have the ability to become entangled in your propeller(s), possibly stalling the engine(s) and tying up the props, disabling your boat. Now add the excitement of catching all of those critters, maybe a few beers, and a wet slippery, slimy deck from pulling all of those nets. Throw in some regular boat traffic through the general area. Now add some big swell, nearby breaking surf, and some wind blowing you right on to the beach or rocky break wall you are hooping. All of these hazards are often present and close calls are common, even for those with lots of experience.

The Best Hoopnetting Transportation

Smaller boats work great for hoop netting. They maneuver well around the floats and rope, and being so close to the water surface makes picking up the floats a breeze. Also if your motor dies in close to the beach or rocks, you may be able to row your way to safety. Pulling the ropes from a sitting position also has its benefits over standing up on a rolling and pitching wet deck of a larger boat. Visibility on the water in the dark in important and a small skiff offers unobstructed 360 degree visibility for locating floats in the darkness .

Bigger boats are much more comfortable on the water. You can put more people on the boat for a higher Lobster bag limit total for the night. You can have more “pullers” on board to relieve the poor guy with the gloves on. You will be able to safely hoop areas that smaller craft can’t make it to in rougher weather. Larger boats are also less likely to become disabled by rope entangling in the props. The higher horsepower and bigger props will just tend to shred the rope rigging.

KAYAKS

Hoop netting for Lobster from a kayak has recently become very popular. Kayakers never get rope tangled in their prop. If you cannot afford a boat and you want to be able to hoop net areas other than public piers, a kayak may be your vehicle. I know a young man who regularly hoops off his kayak with 5 nets and does very well. Plus it is great exercise paddling from net to net. It can be intimidating on a kayak at night with all of the bloody hoop net bait on board.

PIERS

Public piers are a great place to hoop net. The structure is there, and many Southland piers have artificial reefs built very close by. Some piers produce Lobster year after year. Not many fisherman hoop net from public piers. You are allowed to fish two (2) hoop nets per person on any public pier. A great place to learn the basics.

Choosing the Best Location and Time

WHERE TO HOOP NET

Lobster’s live and hide in holes, crevices, and caves. During daylight, Lobsters will likely be hiding in this structure. At night Lobster may leave the structure to hunt for food in the darkness. A good spot to try for Lobster will be in 15-80 feet of water where structure is known to be near by. Public piers, natural kelp reefs, jetties, eel grass beds, break walls, artificial reefs, harbors, and sunken wrecks are all great Lobster habitat. The sand and mud flats immediately adjacent to this type of structure is an ideal area to target. You don’t want to drop your nets on top of a wreck or rock pile. The Lobsters tend to eat your bait from the bottom of the net if it lands on uneven bottom and you don’t want that. You can easily snag and loose a net getting one fouled in bottom structure. The bugs will crawl to your bait if you fish the nets on the sandy bottom next to the structure. If you have sonar, use it to study the ocean floor you plan to fish before you drop the nets.

WHEN TO GO
I like to be on the water within an hour or two of dark. This gives me time to get all of my nets spread out real good in an area and get everything ready to start pulling just before dark. If your new to boating at night, or hoop netting, try to get the hang of it in the calmest, flattest, conditions possible. It takes some skill to drive around all of those floats in the dark without running over the ropes and floats. Once your good at it, hooping in rougher conditions will be less dangerous for you and your crew.

STORMS

The rougher weather related to storms, strong wind and surf tend to get the Lobster crawling out of their holes. During and after stormy conditions, the Lobster fishing can be phenomenal! On these trips pulling 5 or more Lobster in one single pull are common. Keep in mind that the scenary isn’t that like you’d see in Italy with the beautiful real estate italy surrounding it. Many guys catch their big trophy size bugs during or after big storms. More dangerous for sure, but more productive.

Choosing Your Hoop Netting Bait

I have tried alot of different items for hoop net bait. I presume Lobster and Crab would eat almost anything when really hungry. My number one choice is Mackerel for several reasons. Mackerel is usually easy to catch or cheap to buy, smelly, oily and usually plentiful. If you let the bait sit in a sealed container for a day or two, it seems to work even better than when fresh. The commercial guys swear by it. Don’t over do it. More rotten is not better in my experience. Bait can be attached to the center steel hoop or directly to the center of the netting material itself. I use zip ties. Go though one eye socket and out the other and then secure it to the net. Take another zip tie and go around the base of the tail and the net. Pull it as tight as possible. If you cut slits into the fish or fillet the skin off, the bait will attract better but will not last as long. Try to make sure you always have enough bait before you start hooping. If you do a poor job securing the bait to the net, your catch may tear the bait off the net and go eat it somewhere else. Try other baits too. Others have had good results using Tuna, Salmon heads, etc.

Hoop Netting Video

Thought this would be a cool video to post up! Always love those Hoop Netting videos.

Introduction to Hoopnetting

February, 2003 One night, every year, fisherman and divers in Southern California scramble to get their boats and gear to a special fishing area on the water, usually not too far from the harbor. Once there, they ready all their gear and then the waiting game begins. At midnight the Lobster season opens and the race will be on to get a limit of the biggest Lobster out there. Why all of the excitement? Lobster populations are healthy in California waters and rank among the finest eating and priciest seafoods in all of the oceans. In this article, I will try to give an overview of this fast growing sport and the methods used in local Southern California waters to catch these fine eating creatures.

HOOP NETS

Hoop nets are manufactured by several companies and most are 32 inches across. A steel hoop supports the nets round shape and a smaller 12 inch steel hoop is woven into the center of the net. Bait is attached to the inner hoop. A rope bridle is attached in 3 spots around the outer hoop and connects to the main rope. The bridle helps keep the net level when pulling it up from the ocean floor. A float is attached between the mainline and the bridle to support the bridle above the net. Perhaps you have seen fisherman using a hoop net to help land a big “hook and line” caught fish from a pier. These are the same nets used to target Lobster and Crab by California fisherman. Hoop nets will cost you from about $10-$40 each depending on size, quality, features, what’s included, and where you buy them. Remember to abide by the laws or you may need criminal defense!One of the most valued features you can find on a hoop net is a double (two layered) bottom. More on this later.

By Frank Nielsen

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