Hoop Netting Methods
On the West Coast of the USA, in Southern California where I live and hoop net at, there are four common methods for angling for lobsters and crabs for the recreational angler.
The first and probably the most efficient is to scuba dive for them. You have the advantage of being able to size up your quarry and be selective before attempting to make a grab for them. When lobster (a.k.a. BUG) season hits, there are numerous dive boats that can take you out to the most productive locations on overnight trips. Dive shops and dive clubs often run lobster charters and trips on opening night so you are first in line sorta speak. Scuba diving for lobsters would be the most productive in my opinion.
The second way is using hoop nets from a powered boat or skiff. I say powered because of the advantage of mobility. If one spot isn't producing satisfactory results while hoop netting for lobsters, you can put the throttle down and move to another close or distant spot and try there. As the season progresses, the legal's are harvested often leaving and abundance of shorts, or sub-legal lobsters.
However, all is not perfect while hooping from a skiff or larger vessel. First, lobsters and crabs can be spooked easily by the net being jerked or moved before it is actually pulled up. Next, you need really good vessel control at a real slow speed so you can get a nice straight up and down pulling angle. If there is angles when your pulling the hoop up, the contents can easily get out. The ability to cover distance is the big plus here, but maneuvering the vessel at a real slow speed can be hard for boaters, so it can make good pulls difficult. Because of the ability to cover distance if needed, this would be the second most productive way to hoop net for lobsters and crabs in my opinion.
The third way to hoop net for lobsters and crabs and one of my personal favorite is from my kayak. One of my favorite models of kayaks for hooping is an Ocean Kayak Malibu-2XL tandem model. It may not be the most productive of methods, but the "Fun Factor" is definitely there. We kayak hoop netter's go out with fellow hoopers more often than not, and it has an almost party atmosphere to it when a good group is hooping together. One of the big advantages is cost if you already have a good kayak that you could use hoop netting. You don't need diving lessons and equipment, or a boat for the second method as mentioned above. The downside of hooping from a kayak is the limited distance you can travel. There is no throttle to put down, and you're not right next to the lobsters to see them crawling or not like divers are. Is is still productive? Oh Yea....and the Fun-O-Meter is usually pegged pretty good. This would be the third most productive way to hoop net for lobsters and crabs in my opinion.
The fourth way to hoop net for lobsters and crabs is off a pier. This is usually done by the night crowd that fishes from piers along the California Coastline. While you may not have the ability to move around to new spots like if you were in a vessel, except for the nets and bait, there is very little cost. If you're going to fish from the pier at night. why not hoop from it also. If you're not sure if it's legal, you should contact your local Fish & Game office or other local authorities.