Yes, despite what some people say you can be very successful hunting California spiny lobster during daytime hours. The secret to this is knowing what key structures to look for while diving. The method of diving during the day specifically applies to areas outside of coral reefs. Coral reefs are difficult to hunt for lobster during the day due to the deep holes in the reef where the lobsters like to hide until night hours. These holes are extreme difficult to access by hand only. In Florida, you can use certain tools to reach these lobsters deep in the holes, but in California as well as Hawaii these types of methods are not legal. So how do I do this? First, knowing where to hunt.
Hunting these “bugs” during the day requires a significant amount of scouting to find structure that would be good for a lobster to inhabit and still be accessible for a diver. I typically like to dive along jetties. However, I look for structure located slight off of the jetty itself. Usually, the jetty will have lobster, but they will be difficult to access due the large deep holes in the rocks. Other places to scout are ledges, eel grass, and wrecks/debris. All of these places provide concealment, but minimal coverage. This is key. The ledges I look for are usually in very shallow water and often times get overlooked due to waves breaking over them. Usually, I will wait for times for minimal surf and scout out shallow ledges that would normally be in the surf zone. The key thing to finding good ledges is making sure that they do not go back very deep like holes in rocks do. The problem with holes is that they provide maximum cover where lobster can escape when you attempt to catch them. One of my favorite places to search for potential daytime spots is around boat anchorages outside of harbors. The boats there have a bad habit of sinking which creates good structure that’s easy to access like sails or small piece of debris. Another way to search for these spots by using your depth sounder while driving around the anchorages. Look for little bumps on the bottom and dive down to check it out. Usually these spots are relatively shallow and the debris zone can create optimal habits for lobster. Grass, debris, kelp, and ledges all provide a sense of security for the lobster. They think they are protected but they can be easily accessed due to the lack of deep holes or solid structures to hide back in.
As mentioned above, these structures tend to have lobster on them which are more accessible. By accessible, I mean that you can usually get a good grip on the lobster either before it moves backwards or on the backside of the structure as it exits trying to escape. I like to come in to grab the lobster using either both hands trapping it with my hands and the piece of structure (cable, kelp, debris, etc.) or just aiming slightly behind the lobster as you reach for it. With ledges, lobsters do not have much room to move back so I will come at them with both hands from the sides. Usually with this type of diving, you only get one shot on a group of lobsters before they all disappear. That this point the spot is dead. Most of these structures are smaller so being mobile is key. You are going to have to hit multiple spots, only grabbing one or two lobsters at a time. Because of this, I usually just go for the biggest lobster first, then have a second look once the big guy is in the boat or bag.
Hope this helps!