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how to catch and clean florida lobster

Catching Florida Lobster is Easy…or NOT!

Staring down into the water and just out of arm’s reach we can see their antennas all waving about. They’re like a silent sirens song luring us down into the water with promises of a dinner worthy of a king.

After a week of taunting we finally decide to do something about it!  We’re all about farm-to-fork (or sea-to-fork in this case) dining and in our book it doesn’t get much better than fresh, wild lobster.

Like any good millennials, we turn to our computers and search how to catch and clean Florida spiny tail lobster.

Once we scanned a few websites and watched a few videos we thought to ourselves…this looks easy.  We should have known better than to say that phrase because it typically goes downhill from there.

In full disclosure this most likely should be titled how NOT to catch and clean a lobster.  In fact, it’s a little embarrassing, but that’s life and learning, isn’t it?!?  So don’t feel bad if you find yourself laughing at us…we’re laughing right along with you.

Sure we could’ve edited this down to make ourselves look like pros, but what a disservice that would be. I am glad we’re getting our practice in on these claw-less Florida Lobsters. Can you imagine if this would’ve been their cold water relatives? They could’ve easily taken a finger or two just to teach us a lesson. Yowzers!

After our half-wit lobster catching and cleaning debacle I decided to do a little more research for our next attempt.  Here is what I have learned so far:

Lobster Gettin’ Gear

 

Catching A Florida Lobster

Lobsters move slowly forward but when scared they flex those tails and fly backwards! They are like seafood lightning bolts!  So, make sure you are ready with the net!

Once you’ve spotted a lobster slide the tickle stick behind and gently tap the lobsters tail to coax them forward. Once it’s out of the hole, place the net behind the lobster and give a little tap on the forehead. This should cause the lobster to quickly shoot back into your net.

However, if you’re first few attempts are anything like Jason’s…it may take a little bit to get the hang of it. Oh, and if you don’t quickly swoop the end of the net around so the lobster is trapped, they will work their way out.

The trickiest part seemed to be measuring the lobster while still in the water (rules say you can’t take a lobster out of the water until you’re sure it’s of legal size).  The minimum size is a carapace (body) measuring at least 3 inches.  This means it’s at least 2-3 years old and has had time to reproduce at least once.

catching fresh wild lobster

Removing the Tail and Cleaning the Lobster

As with most things on the internet, there was more than one way to de-tail a lobster. I read and watched several websites/videos and here is what I walked away with:

The most humane thing to do is put the lobster in the freezer, or cover it with ice, for two hours to render it unconscious (none of the Florida Lobster specific videos/websites mentioned this so I didn’t do this step…and I seriously wished I would have). Once the lobster is unconscious and no longer moving, push the tip of a sharp knife through the center of the head (in the video, I was too close to the center) and it’s supposed to kill it instantly and humanely.

Cut the spines on the edge of the tail to keep from poking your hands, the sharp edges can even poke through gloves.  Hold the tail in one hand and the body in the other. With a twist in both directions pull the tail to separate from the body. Snip off any slick membrane left behind and remove the dark intestinal thread that runs the length of the tail (much like de-veining a shrimp).

Rinse the tail thoroughly and its ready to cook or store. Lobster lasts for about 72 hours in the refrigerator or wrap them tightly and immediately freeze. As for cooking there are lots of recipes and ideas out there. We decided to whip up some corn tortillas, Mexican slaw and avocado pico to make street tacos.

fresh caught florida lobster

If you do a good job cleaning the simplest, and purest way is to steam (or boil) the tail until the meat is light pink and the shell is deep red.  Serve it with a little drawn butter and enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor.

In the end, we only ended up with this one tail because Jason couldn’t find another lobster large enough to keep.  Since the Florida lobster season is over at the end of March, most of the lobsters that are left this late in the season aren’t large enough to keep.

Did we catch enough lobster to pay for our fishing license?  Nope, not even close.  But it was one giant learning adventure that will no doubt come in handy once we’re living on a sailboat!

 

Lobster is one of our favorite seafood delicacies, but how about you? Have you ever caught your own? Have any tips, tricks or recipes you want to share in the comments below? We only have a few months till the next lobster season begins!

 

Equipment used to film this video:

 

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (67)

  • leticia fernandes

    Hey There,
    This was a really nice video, i’m going to Key west this month and i’m very interested catching some lobsters for my dinner. Where did you guys go to do this?

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  • Tom

    Question:

    What is that home made squirting solution you use to kill your fish when you catch them?

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  • Richard

    I’ve been following your move to the sailboat, saw the link to the Lobster video and have to say I had a good laugh, but mostly in remembrance of how our first trips went. It’s not easy! You’ve got the boat and before you know it diving and catching dinner will become second nature to you as, I hope, will Jason’s tan. Continued Safe Travels.
    Richard

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  • Chris Harwood

    My wife & I watched the video and had a good laugh. Here in NS we put them in boiling water for 20 min or so till they’re ready. I don’t like that process but its better than what you went through. We’re just back from FL (wishing that Spring would come). Hope to see you on the road

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  • PV

    Although I don’t live in Florida anymore it was fun watching your videos. I have something to add next time you get some lobster. To pop the tail off, FOLD the tail in half first and twist 90 degrees, it’ll pop off and you won’t need gloves. Then break about 3/4 of an antenna off, you’ll see the barbs all go only one direction. Stick the fat part (barbs will go in easy like that) in then spin it a little (locking the barbs in the poop chute) and pull back out and it will de-vein it cleanly. Good luck!

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  • rick and nancy

    your amazing, both of you’s 🙂 for our son’s graduation, 2003 we visited the keys and a week later were planning how to
    move there.. haha now kids less and only grandbabies are keeping us close.. thanks for the video as you ate at and walk the same places we did.. ahh power ball luck would change alot 🙂 but its a place to visit and to dream about. happy travels and thanks for keeping it real, Booya

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  • Muss

    You might have to get a dog to catch lobster.
    How To Train Your Dog To Catch A Lobster”
    https://youtu.be/mcBB0VjuVDM

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  • Girl…take off your gloves!
    Makin’ me homesick = ( but maybe now I feel a little better. Thanks for keepin me Floridized!

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  • Very entertaining video. Hubby has gotten a lot of lobsters over the years and just twists their tails. They usually die in the cooler and then the tail twisting is easy. Someone already mentioned using the antenna for the poop shoot. That’s what he did too. Lobster cleaning is not “my job.” Looks like you had fun except for the killing part. (I feel your pain)

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  • I just love these Key West posts!! I am from MN and we just had yet another snow storm…. Your joy and slightly drunken tanned happiness makes me smile! The last few videos have been so fun and fill with authentic joy. Please keep them coming. Us mid-westerners ( who are waiting not so patienly for spring to come) need to see the sunny beaches and big smiles!

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  • Joseph Scott

    Oh Nikki! That was entertaining! In the Keys we refer to them a Bugs… I have been through many Mini Seasons – Last week in July each year when the Bugs are plentiful and two weeks prior to opening Commercial Season. Next time, place your catch in a cooler with ice. Then harvest the tail without the ole Slice and Dice of the head. Just a Twist and pull of the tail. KEEP one of the antenna, it has small barbs. insert into poop shoot about half way and then gently pull out…. takes out the whole tube. We prefer grilling our tails…. Lay the tail down flat on a board belly side down. Use that large knife by pressing straight down on tail to “butterfly” it open, don’t push all the way through. Place slices of butter into tail and meat and season with “Old Bay” seasoning. Place on Aluminum foil, wrap up and keep tail facing up so as to keep butter in shell and onto the grill. Some will then drizzle farm fresh honey on top of the tail for some sweet glazing…… delicious! Best of luck next time !! August & September are best if you can handle the HEAT!

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  • Dj

    Omg!!! Laugh out loud funny! Then I almost cried when Nikki was killing it! Dang (lol)!

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  • GREGORY WIERZBICKI

    I DID A QUICK SEARCH ON BOAT TRADER AND PUNCHED IN A 40′ LEOPARD AND CAME UP WITH ONE IN MIAMI A 2005 WITH TWIN 40 HP DEISELS AND SOME KIND OF MAIN SAIL LOOKED PRETTY NICE FROM THE PICTURE FOR $219K BUT YOU PROBABLY ALREADY SAW THAT ONE.

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  • Oh goodness Nikki! Looks like a blast. We live in Florida, so it looks like it’s time to pull out the snorkel and mask and head down to the beach.

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  • Kay Aerts

    I know this sounds crazy … but if you keep a few dryer sheets around and tuck them into the neck of your shirt or put them on your head… the no-seeums will leave you alone :).

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  • Rob White

    Good job!
    I know people who have tried for years and never caught a single lobster.

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  • Lisa

    the knife is supposed to go in their head. Hint – the head is where the eyes are. The knife appeared to go through the body. 🙁

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  • Claude & Manon

    As everyone saying…it was hilarious…but the funniest thing never happenned!!!! The most funniest thing would of been…when the lobster was jumping on the table, Nikki jumped back and the bug jump back in the water. I think everybody thought about that possibility… Keep the videos coming, you are so entertaining…thanks

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  • Kim Nowell

    This was awesome, my husband and I laughed so hard. Its good to see other couples enjoy things like this together and can laugh about it. I would struggle also , Nikki, killing them and very proud of you. Thank you for this awesome enjoyable video. Hope boat shopping is coming along for you.

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  • Guy Owen

    By the way, I just saw the post by “Gregory” about the Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland for a catamaran, and I agree! Not sure what size you are looking for, nor the price range, but Annapolis and the surrounding areas seem like an ideal next spot to hunt.

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  • Guy Owen

    I have NEVER had a decent lobster dinner. Every one I’ve ever bought in a restaurant was on the tough, rubbery side. I much prefer Maryland Blue Crab or Alaskan King Crab or Dungeness Crab. Or, to cut to the chase with a lot less fuss — Spiced Steamed Shrimp with Old Bay Seasoning and melted butter. Nope! Lobster huntin’, I won’t go!

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  • Holger Tietz

    I ate my first lobster during our 2012 vacation in South Dakota. Afterwards I imagined I probably couldn’t have been more far away from the ocean in the US to enjoy my first lobster ?
    But it was delicious ?

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  • Pat and Rita

    Wow what a great video. Was watching this while in Starbucks in Portland and it was so funny that I was
    Actually laughing out loud and tears running down. You two are an amazing couple and have so much fun
    Doing thing together.

    reply
  • H.M.Smith

    Lobster!! That”s no lobster, that’s a bug!! Your going to have to come back to Maine to get a lobster! If you remember when you were in Acadia, we just stick them head first in boiling water for 20 min. Then let them cool,remove the meat from the shell and put it in real butter. Now that’s lobster!!

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    • Michael

      That is very cruel, how would you like to be stuck in boiling water head first

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      • H.M.Smith

        Sorry that way upsets you, but that’s the way it’s done in all the restaurants! Did you ever think about how steak gets on your plate?

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  • Peg C

    I’m proud of both of you. Neither task looked like fun nor easy. But the end dish appeared appetizing. Good thing you have a 3 day license. Hopefully there will be more on your table next try.

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  • It’s so incredibly thoughtful of you guys to learn how to catch our favorite kind of seafood… so that you’re ready for when we come v̶a̶c̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶b̶o̶a̶r̶d̶ ̶w̶h̶i̶l̶e̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶w̶a̶i̶t̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶u̶s̶ ̶h̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶o̶t̶ visit you on your new boat!

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  • Brian

    I usually don’t comment on things but my wife and I have been following you guys for a while and we were laughing so hard watching you two! That made our week. Glad you caught one!

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  • William (Bill) Weaver

    When Nikki went in for the kill with the knife, I flashed on that screeching music from the shower scene from Psycho. Another fun adventure. Thanks for sharing. Carry on, we are all waiting for the next chapter.

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  • Christine Beattie

    Oh my goodness, I don’t know which one of you was funnier! I was literally cracking up by myself in the living room at 0100 AM, trying to hush myself not wake up my son! HAHA! Great job!

    reply
  • GREGORY WIERZBICKI

    SCATTER BRAINED I AM MEANT TO MENTION HOW ABOUT THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA TO FIND A USED CATAMARAN SAILBOAT TONS OF YACHT BROKERAGES IN THAT AREA. GOOD LUCK

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  • Dirk VanEssendelft

    We went to the Bahamas a couple times and will probably go back again. We swam with these kind of lobster there. I tried to catch them without a net, to no avail. Those buggers are quick when they want to be. They weren’t moving very fast when they walk, but just one flick of that tail and they’re out of there!

    Will definitely freeze/ice b4 I process when we catch next time.

    Cool vid (except for that awful noise)

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  • craig hayman

    Kia ora, I enjoyed your video (but then I enjoy all your videos) A couple of suggestions. After you have killed it- get a pot of boiling water (salt water works well & you don’t have to use your water ration) drop your lobster in & turn off. Once the water has cooled down the lobster will be cooked. Then de-tail it & get the meat out of the legs. This is what we do in New Zealand to crayfish, although our crayfish are slightly bigger so we get more meat out of the legs. If you are into sea to fork, you can keep the carapace to boil & make a bisque soup. Next point – next time Jason uses weights, please, please don’t put them in your pockets. If for some reason you have to dump the weights, your only choice (& remember this is all on one breath of air) is to drop your shorts which can get caught on your dive booties. Better to use a belt that comes off easily. This is from experience were I lent my weight belt to a novice diver & used a sack of rocks to keep me down. It is very interesting trying to untie a sack under water when the rope has become water logged & expanded . Still you have the rest of your life to work it out, unfortunately that’s usually only 1 & half mins away. Good luck on your next attempt. Have you thought (or is it legal) of filling some old pantyhose with bait & a weight & lowering it over the side? The lobster/crayfish will inveterate the bait smell & get their legs & shell caught in the pantyhose & you bring it up – just like fishing. Or your net with three cords tied to it & bait in middle when lobster goes for bait, pull up the net.
    cheers
    craig.

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    • Dirk VanEssendelft

      Your idea of crayfish must be different than what we (I) think of here in the US. I either think of the Louisiana crayfish or the fresh water crayfish we used to catch in rivers growing up. Neither are bigger than your fist. I’d be interested to see what you are taling about if yours are bigger than a lobster.

      We also used to do something similar to catch crabs on Long Island. Save the chicken scraps and then tie a string to them and throw them into the bay off the dock. If you pull the string up really slowly, most often the crab will not let go. Then when they get close, net them. We could also catch them off the bow of a slow moving boat because blue crab would swim along the surface. If you were quick enough you could net them before the boat scared them.

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  • I HOPE YOU TWO DO AS WELL AT SEA AS YOU HAVE IN THE RV. I TRAVELED BY MOTORCYCLE AND NOW IT’S TIME FOR MORE COMFORT HOTEL PRICES ARE INSANE. YOU’D NEVER KNOW YOU CAN’T SPELL NIKKI.

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  • Julie Robertson

    And here I thought you could just throw it in a pot and cook it! Man oh man, I was jumping throughout the whole video. You two kill me.

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  • The Professor

    Here in California we dive for lobster at night, in the dark kelp forests with limited underwater visibility. Lobster love to partner with Moray eels. Diving for food here is an adventure. Next time you are in Northern California be sure to try diving for Abalone. A pleasant snorkeling experience! Loved the Lobster Video!

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  • John & Jen

    CANT STOP ROTFL

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  • Illya

    How awesome! I had thougt about keeping lobsters since i have a tank for them in my collection of different tanks, actually a round older kind from red lobster but decided there was no money in it lol.
    I can’t wait for first vid on the boat!!
    Since you’re keeping the solar and stuff maybe get another magna the 48v 4000 watt with new lithiums and use it for dedicated AC and heating. That would give you redundancy at least if one unit were to go out. Very exciting stuff you guys are doing?

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  • Deborah Kerr

    Good for you guys!! I love when people aren’t afraid to try new things! It really was out of your comfort zone, but isn’t a great feeling that you got through it 🙂 And yum, fresh lobster! You gotta start somewhere!!

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  • Mary

    Loved watching you both! Better try again tomorrow – 3rd time usually does it!

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  • Thanks for sharing a real look behind the scenes at one of your adventures. Enjoyed the giggle and always enjoy your videos and blog posts. You have inspired us to start our own RV adventure this June.

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  • Steve

    Please stop lobstering. Or at least stop video taping yourselves trying to do it. I laughed to hard to long and now I hurt from it. That is one of the funniest videos ever. Got to FB and Twitter it,, bet it goes viral.

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  • Oh my goodness. This is the best video ever!!!! When that tail squirmed again, I literally jumped out of my darn seat!!!!

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  • Susan J

    Thank you so much! That was just hilariously good fun!

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  • We had our boat in the Keys one Winter and tried to go lobster fishing. The men got on scuba gear, went down and promptly came up with no lobster. Very windy day and too murky below. So lesson is don’t try this in windy conditions

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  • It is always difficult to clean your game, the first time. Most people only see their beef/pork/chicken/fish/etc displayed in the grocery in clean convenient styrofoam and plastic packages. You did well, I can see you in another life going across the prairie in a covered wagon, not so unlike an RV. Thanks for sharing.

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  • ODB

    Dammit Wynn…that was some funny stuff right there!

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  • Cheryl Gleaton

    Hilarious! Loved the video! I’ve lived my whole life in Florida and never caught a lobster! Good work!!

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  • We used to go down to Islamorada in the Florida keys years ago and go lobster catching on opening week-end each August. The guys used coat hangers and hooked the lobsters underneath and dragged them out of the crevases in the rocks so we could net them. I think that method is illegal now, but it worked good years ago. There’s nothing pleasant about killing and cleaning them, but the ice does help. Then we split them like you did, boiled them about 8 – 10 min., and then finished them off with a barbecue grill with butter and lemon. Yum, yum!

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  • When I was kid I pulled traps every day on a commercial boat (read 20 foot skiff) in the open ocean. My pay was two bugs a day which I took home and cooked with q quarter pound of butter every night. Needless to say my mother was less than impressed that I preferred the bugs to Swanson pot pies of Franco American spaghetti.
    handling and cleaning them is much easier after you have done it a few times. That said I absolutely adored your video….

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  • I’m still laughing (not that I could have done it any better)!!

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  • Johnson Baby Oil or lanolin will help with t.
    he no see’em. The draw back, you feel like a grease pig. They also don’t like the heat of the day

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  • Awesome, hilarious and you both did way, way better than I probably would have on my second or third try! Nice finish to my Sunday afternoon!

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  • Mario Rodriguez

    That was priceless! I cant wait until the boat videos start rolling in..:)

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  • Jerry Cummins

    How is the yacht search coming?

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  • Paul Holstein

    Next time, break off one of the antennas and stick it up the poop shoot and retract it back out. It will remove the poop shoot quickly and easily.

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      • Should have called me. I’d have walked you through the whole process. Glad you got one. Enjoy!

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  • This is the best video ever. Watching the lobster hop out of the net the first time was hilarious!

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  • Azalee Salis

    I laughed so hard!!

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  • Brenda Johnston

    I love this! Hilarious watching you guys do this for your first time.

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  • John S.

    Loved that video. Thanks for the entertainment.
    You two are going to have so much fun on a boat!
    John S.

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  • Nikki Buck

    This was hilarious! Thanks for sharing!

    reply

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