Tips on Trapping Lobsters

Written by mandy slake
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Tips on Trapping Lobsters
Lobster cage traps don't need to be checked as frequently as hoop traps. (lobster creels image by Dougie Robertson from

There are generally two types of lobsters in the United States that can be trapped. Spiny lobsters have no claws. American lobsters are the lobsters everyone thinks of when they hear the name lobster. Their heavy claws can give a painful pinch, so it's best to cover them with a heavy rubber band.


Lobsters prefer smelly, oily fish. Herring, mackerel and bonito are good choices. Use a nylon mesh bait bag to keep the lobster from tearing apart the bait. This way you can reuse the bait after you've trapped and taken out the lobster. Tie the bait bag to the top of a cage trap with sturdy twine or wire. Make sure it hangs down a bit, so the lobster can't get to the bait from the outside of the trap. Tie the bait bag to the centre of the bottom ring of a hoop trap.

Lobster Traps

There are two types of traps for lobsters: cage traps and ring, or hoop, traps. Cage traps allow the lobsters to enter the trap, but not leave. This means they can be left in place for long periods. Hoop traps are made from two metal hoops tied together with a nylon net. The lobster climbs into the hoops over the net to get to the bait. There's nothing to prevent the lobster from leaving after it's eaten its fill, so hoop traps should be checked every 10 to 15 minutes.

Placement of the Traps

Try to place traps near rock piles, drop offs, breakwaters and other places lobsters like to hide. Lobsters have many predators, and they prefer to hide in the crevices. Place your traps at different depths, anywhere from 15 to 75 feet down. The traps are tied to a rope attached to a buoy. If you're going to leave your trap for awhile, make sure you leave enough slack in the rope to account for the current and changing of the tides. Otherwise you may come back and find your buoy underwater.

Best Times for Lobster Trapping

Lobsters are mostly active at night, but when the water is murky, they may be active during daylight hours. You will have the best luck if you set out your cage traps during daylight hours, then return for them the next morning. Since hoop traps need to be checked often, you will need to be out on the water at night. Make sure you have the required lights on your boat.

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