Hoopnetting Tips & Tricks

1. I change out all the small floats found on most hoop nets. I use the larger professional “Bullet ” type of foam floats. They are about 5 “x11 “, so they are significantly larger. Along with using the larger float, I further do two things to it to make it safer in my opinion and easier to see. First, I put a couple bands of reflective tape on them. I used S.O.L.A.S. (Safety Of Life At Sea) tape on my current set, but in the past I have used 3M reflective tape that the trailers that semi trucks pull are marked with. Either type of tape reflects well when shined on by a flashlight. In addition to the tape, I also use a cyalume stick on the float. This can help boaters see your floats if they’re paying attention.

2. By using “Bait Cages “, you can make the hooping trip more organized. You can load them at home, and put them in a one gallon kitchen type reseal able plastic storage bag, and keep them ready to go in your freezer. Most of the mid sized Playmate or Igloo coolers with the center handles will carry five loaded bait cages and some ice. I keep the loaded bait cages in the freezer until the trip, then take them in the cooler to the launch. I then use tie wraps to secure the cages to the nets and get ready to go. When I return, I cut two tie wraps per bait cage, and put the bait cages back in the bags and back in the freezer when I get home. If I got any lobsters, I put them in the five gallon bucket I carry on the kayak, them put the ice in the bucket with them for the trip home. When they get iced down, it helps make them lethargic. Bait cages also significantly help make the bait harder to steal by pests like seals and such.

3. Probably the most important tip in here is LINE CONTROL. Some hoop nets come with up to one hundred feet of line on them stock. If most of your hooping is going to be done in fifteen to forty feet of water, why keep the extra line around to get tangled up? One of the worst things I see on the water is when someone uses a hoop net with eighty plus feet of line going to the float, in shallow water say thirty feet. If you have eighty feet of main line, and your trap is in thirty feet of water, where is the other fifty feet? Unless you plan ahead to tie it up somehow, you can have fifty feet of extra line just under the surface waiting to get tangled up in a propeller of a passing boat. This can be very dangerous for everyone involved, and steps should be taken to help avoid this.

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.

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 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

Hoopnetting Tips & Tricks 3

7. Before I separate the tail from the carapace of the lobster, I put the lobster in a plastic grocery bag in the freezer for half an hour to help put them to sleep as it were. Then I remove them from the bag and if they don’t move around I separate the tails at the point. I then put the carapace back in the bag and freeze it until it goes out in the trash. Right after I separate the lobster tail, I remove the digestive vein running through it. (See Cleaning Lobsters Page for details).

8. When pulling up your hoop nets, you should do it quickly and without angles. When setting up to pull your hoops, you should approach them under control. This is where a kayak really shines. I approach the hoop net and grab the three feet of tag line and set it over the side of the kayak, then I lift the float on the deck. I’ll put just a bit of lift on the main line to see what kind of angle I would have if I pulled it up then. If there is little or no angle, I pull it up as quick as I can. I’ll bring it out of the water, but beside the vessel or kayak. That way if there are crabs, maybe a irritated eel, or a fin fish you don’t want you can just flip the net over and dump them back out.  Whatever you do don’t use gaskets for this! The less of an angle there is when you’re pulling the hoop net up, the better. When a lobster feels the hoop raise up, it’s gonna start trying to escape. If you have drastic angles in the nets when you are pulling them up, you could be making it easier for them to escape.