Hoopnetting Transportation

Now let’s go over some of the types of transportation that you can use to hoop net. First off smaller boats are obviously a better bet for hoopnetting due to the necessary maneuvering that is needed. The smaller boats allow you to get around the floats and rope and being close to the water surface allows you to easily pick up the floats rather than performing aerobatics to do so. Not to mention if you have a smaller boat and your motor dies it is easier to row your way to safety. Also pulling the ropes from a sitting position also has many benefits over standing up on a rolling and pitching wet deck of a larger boat. Most importantly a smaller boat allows for increased visibility in just about 360 degrees rather than a larger boat that has a much worse visibility.

Sure bigger boats are much more comfortable on the water and you can obviously get a larger bag limit for the night but consider the options before choosing the larger boat. The higher the horsepower of the boat the more damage the props will due to the ropes.

Kayaks are the new rave for hoop netting. Kayakers never have to worry about getting your rope tangled in the prop. If you cannot afford a boat and you want to be ablet o hoop net areas that require smaller vessels consider a kayak. Keep in mind though that it can get pretty intimidating being out in the dark with a bloody hoop net bait on board so this may not be for the faint of heart.

For those of you that don’t have a kayak or boat then public piers are a graet place to hoop net. The structure is already there and many Southland piers have artificial reefs built very close by. Some piers can produce lobster year after year and not many fisherman hoopnet from public piers. Keep in mind that laws are different for state although typically you can have 2 hoop nets per person on any public pier. It’s really a great way to get started.

When to Go Hoopnetting

The best time to go out Hoopnetting is within an hour or two of dark. Giving yourself enough time to get all the nets spread out real well in an area and get everything ready to begin pulling prior to dark. If you are just starting to hoop net I’d suggest going at the calmest and flattest of conditions possible as it takes some skill to drive aroudn all of those floats in the dark without running over the ropes or floats. Once you become familiar and good at it it will be much easier to navigate during those rougher conditions of times.

Wanna know the real secret of hoopnetting? Storms.

The rougher the weather the better the catch. Whenever it is stormy, with a strong wind and surf the lobsters tend to move out of their holes. During such stormy conditions, the Lobster can be absolutely amazing! You hear stories of people catching 5 or more lobster on a single pull! Not to mention the stories of the trophy catcehs during or after big storms. Keep in mind that this is much more dangerous and should only be executed by the more seasoned hoopnetter.

Best Locations to Hoopnet

Improving on the post a few weeks ago lets discuss the best locations to Hoopnet. Lobster’s live and hide in holes, crevices, and caves! Keep this in mind when you are out looking for places to set your nets.

During the dailight hours Lobsters will be hiding in these types of structures. Althought at night the Lobster may leave his structure and hunt for food in the mask of the night. A nice spot for a Lobster will be in 15-80 feet of water depth where a known structure is near by. This includes things like Public piers, natural kelp reefs, jetties, eel grass beds, break walls, artificial reefs, harbors, and sunken wrecks are the best locations for Lobster habitat.

After locating such hiding places look for the sand and mud flats immediately surrounding the structures. Remember that you don’t want to drop your nets on top of a wreck or rock pile. Lobsters tend to eat from the bottom of the net and if it lands on an uneven bottom you don’t want that. My personal advice is to use sonar when possible so that you know exactly where your putting your net.

Hoopnetting Bait Ideas

Being such an avid Hoopnetter I’ve tried so many different types of baits. Crab and Lobster will eat just about anything when really hungry although my first choice is Mackerel. Mackerel is not only easy to catch, but also very easy to buy. Not to mention the fact that it is smelly and oily which makes our job much easier and much more successful.

Here is the trick, get your Mackerel and put it into a sealed container for a day or two. This really allows for the smells and oils to extract from the Mackerel and the lobster seem to go crazy for it. Please note that the goal isn’t to over do it! We don’t want our Mackerel turning rotten, that won’t attract anything at that point. Just a nice day or two and you’ve got yourself some great bait.

Attach the bait to the center of the steel hoop or directly to teh center of the netting material, whichever suits you best. Zip ties really make things alot easier so be sure to use them. Go through the eye socket and out the other and secure it on the net. Then take another zip tie and go around the base of the tail and the net and be sure to pull it as tight as possible.

If you cut slits into the fish or fillet the skin off, the bait will attract better but keep in mind that it will not last as long. I suggest doing some tests with various nets and the various bait tactics, ie fresh mackerel vs older mackerel and clits/fileted mackerel. This way you know what works better for your area. Keep in mind that if you do a poor job securing the bait to the net that your catch may tear off the net and go eat it somewhere else.

Some other bait ideas include, Tuna, Salmon heads and other similar fish.

Advanced Hoopnetting Techniques

A friend of mine introduced me to underwater infra-red video cameras earlier this season. We have been attaching these surveillance cameras to baited hoop nets and dropping them down at the lobster grounds. The camera can see in total darkness due to the infra-red lighting. The camera is aimed at the baited area of the hoop net. The video signal travels through a special cable and the image is displayed on a small monitor on the boat. You can watch everything that is going on in the net. We are learning alot from just watching. I am amazed at how quickly the Lobster will crawl into the net after it has been lowered from the boat, sometimes within a minute. It’s kinda like reading web hosting user reviews sometimes, you never really know what you will end up getting. At times, those bugs must be littered all over the ocean floor. We have been video taping alot of this. Those interested will get a chance to see some of this exciting footage at the Fred Hall Show this March at the AMI booth.

Fine Tuning Your Hoopnetting Skills


I have spent a great deal of time learning everything I can about this sport. I read books, surf the internet, talk to everyone I can at the docks, and spend alot of time on the phone with other hoop netters. I am constantly trying to find a way to get a limit of lobster quicker and bigger than my last trip out. What I have learned helps, however I can not ignore the fact that I am regularly out-fished by someone with little or no experience hoop netting. The bottom line is, if you are in the right place at the right time, you will get them and get them quick even with “bottom of the line” gear.


Big Lobsters 5-10 pounds are caught by many hoop netters every season. The larger bugs tend to hold on to the net and/or bait and won’t let go, even when they have been boated. They are clumsy, heavier and slower than the smaller bugs. Once a large Lobster crawls into your net, there is a good chance you will land him. Sometimes the larger bugs will be partially hanging over the edge of the net when you get the net up. The best you can do to help land the big ones is to use the largest diameter, deepest net you can get your hands on. Some hoop netters claim your chances for catching a trophy Lobster are better very late in the evening and late in the season.


This is what really makes hoop netting fun! The bait in your hoop net will attract almost anything that lives in the ocean. Some of the items you will catch in your hoops will amaze you. A partial list of what you may pull up includes Sea Lions, Round Sting Rays, Spider Crabs, Octopus, Sea cucumbers, Swell Sharks, Swimming Crabs, Snails, Horn Sharks, Rock Crabs, Bass, Rockfish, Sculpin, Bat Rays, Smooth Hound Sharks, Croaker, and Starfish. All of the different bycatch really keeps the pulling interesting. You never know what you are going to pull up. Last week, a friend got a big Bat ray in his net. The net was swimming around with the Bat ray completely inside of the net. While pulling the net, the Bat Ray actually took line from his gloved hands.

Nice Size Lobster Video

Pretty big lobster…

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Hoopnetting How To


I love to hoop net. I still get very excited every time I get out there. I never “wait” to pull a net. I set all 5 of my nets to cover a large area as it gets dark. Once all 5 are set, I go back to the net I put down first and pull it. Then the next, and so on. I have pulled up nets that the bait was half eaten out of the net in that short time between pulls. Likely, the critter(s) have eaten and left. As I pull nets that have good catches in them, I concentrate more nets in that area. If catching is really slow, I may try re-baiting with some unsoaked bait and move the nets around a little. I don’t sit and wait for the bugs to find my nets. I move the nets around alot and hope to find a concentration and then fish it hard.


Sea Lions can ruin a great night of hoop netting. The Sea Lions in many areas have learned how to pull the baits from hoop nets no matter how good you secure them. When that happens, you just keep baiting your nets and then watch the Sea Lions dive down and eat it up, tearing and towing your nets around in the process. Some hoop netters will keep re-baiting the nets till their bait supply is exhausted. They sometimes go home empty handed with nothing but torn up nets. Some have had some luck attaching the bait to the bottom side of the hoop net. Promar manufactures a newly designed hoop net that incorporates a second piece of netting material on the center ring forming a pouch to securely hold the bait between the two layers of material. Once you try these nets when Sea Lions are around you will see the value of the double bottom bait pouch in these nets. The design is so good, the company has patented it. If Sea Lions are around and you are using the single bottom nets, you may be better off trying another area altogether unless you have some sort of secure bait containers with you to tie onto your nets.


The boat operator plays a very important role when pulling the nets. The boat must pull up to the float without running it over, yet close enough so that the net puller can reach the float with his gloved hands or with a boat hook. The net puller must then pick up the float causing the least possible amount of disturbance to the hoop net. If the rope is suddenly jerked, anything feeding on the bait may be startled off before the net puller ever gets started with raising the net off the ocean bottom. The key to pulling the nets up is steady consistent pulling from start to finish. Speed is important too, but not at the expense of a nice steady pull all the way to the surface.


Besides your hoop nets, bait, and a suitable fishing platform, here is a list of stuff you may need on a night out hoop netting for Lobster. A gauge for measuring Lobster, available at some fishing tackle stores and dive shops. A powerful hand held spotlight to search for floats. Chemical light sticks for your main floats. Zip Ties and a pair of cutters to cut them off. Gloves for the guy pulling, I use the orange gloves with the silicone glue stripes all over them. A rain suit or slickers, the guy pulling will get wet from the chest down. A boat hook or a gaff pole to help pick up the floats when using a boat with high rails. An anchor that is ready to throw, in case of disabled motor. And finally a good camera to take lots of pictures of all of those big Lobster.

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.