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.

Choosing the Best Location and Time


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.

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.


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.

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.