When Is Lobster Season?

The best time of year for fresh-from-the-sea lobster may surprise you. Here are the lobster seasons for some of the biggest lobster-producing states.

When you think of summer, you may think of fresh lobster tails for dinner or lobster rolls from seaside shacks, but are the warmer months really the best time to enjoy the succulent shellfish? Savvy lobster shoppers know you can certainly buy lobster in the summer, but when it comes to getting the biggest bang for your buck, fall and winter just might be the best seasons for lobster. Here's why.

Crustacean perfection at McLoons
Carl Tremblay

When Is Lobster Season?

The easiest answer is it depends on where you are. Here are the lobster seasons for some of the biggest lobster-producing states:

  • Maine: Year-round, with the majority caught between June – December
  • Florida: August – March
  • California: September – March

In very warm climates, lobster season often occurs in fall and winter, when the water is cooler. In cooler climates, lobsters are more populous during summer months. As the temperatures climb after winter's chill, lobsters move closer to the shore and into warmer waters. There, they shed their hard shell and grow more before their new shell hardens. Once a lobster molts its shell, it's more active as it seeks food to promote its growth.

What Is the Difference Between Soft Shell and Hard Shell Lobsters?

After a lobster sheds its hard shell, it's considered a "soft-shell" lobster, and these lobsters are what's most often caught in the earliest months of lobster seasons. Soft shells generally have sweeter, more tender meat than hard shells, and are easier to shuck.

However, soft-shell lobsters are harder to ship to stores because they lack the tough exoskeleton that protects them from jostling during storage. That's why inland lobster lovers may have a harder time finding lobster until fall when shells harden.

Hard-shell lobsters are more commonly caught between November and June. After December, lobsters begin adding weight and getting bigger before the next molt.

When Can I Get the Best Price for Lobster?

Look to fall for the best prices as summer's demand wanes and pre-holiday price spikes have yet to hit. If you're willing to wait, you'll get more bang for your buck as these newly-hard-shell lobsters are typically meatier than their softer counterparts but aren't quite as pricey as heavier hard-shell crabs can be just before the molt.

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