Source: Miami Herald |  Published: July 8, 2022 | Reporter: Steve Waters

A group of five middle-aged men stand on a wooden dock in the backyard of their house holding spiny lobsters from their tails.

Image Credit: Steve Waters, Special to the Miami Herald

Divers who don’t have access to boats can still get in on the miniseason fun by diving off the beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, where the reefs are a few hundred yards offshore. The town is celebrating the miniseason with its 10th anniversary BugFest.

BugFest features up to $10,000 in cash, dive gear, other prizes and awards for divers competing in the Great Florida Bug Hunt, which costs $30 to enter. Registration for the Bug Hunt is now open online at and at Gold Coast Scuba in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, and runs through 6 p.m. July 26.

You don’t have to enter the contest, or even be a diver, to enjoy BugFest’s activities, which include parties, concerts and a lobster cooking competition. BugFest begins July 26 with a free lobster hunting seminar by Mathie from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Plunge Beach Resort. That is followed by a miniseason kickoff party from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The Great Florida Bug Hunt starts at 12:01 a.m. July 27, and lobster hunters can earn cash in a variety of categories. The heaviest lobster caught anywhere off a boat wins $500, with $250 for the second-biggest and $150 for the third-place bug. The heaviest bug caught off the beach that day wins $500, with $250 for second and $150 for third.

Weigh-in stations are open at El Prado Park, 4500 El Mar Dr., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, from 12:20 a.m. to 2 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and at Sands Harbor Marina, 125 N. Riverside Dr., Pompano Beach, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Divers receive a raffle ticket for every lobster they weigh in, which means those who catch their limit get 12 tickets. Raffle prizes include dive gear, dive charter boat trips, hotel stays and a grand prize of a two-night stay at Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center in the Bahamas.

A lobster chef competition, with amateur and professional chefs preparing their favorite spiny lobster recipes for a panel of judges – they also hand out samples to the audience — is 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 27 at the beach pavilion at the end of Commercial Boulevard. The Great Florida Bug Hunt awards and raffle are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

BugFest activities resume July 29 with a benefit concert at Plunge Beach Resort from 6 to 9 p.m. The concert raises funds for “Scuba for Good,” a non-profit that teaches people with disabilities how to dive. The organization partners with Gold Coast Scuba to coordinate boat dives for adaptive divers.

BugFest concludes July 30 with an underwater cleanup at Anglin’s Pier from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Divers who want to help remove fishing line, hooks, sinkers and other debris from the water around the pier can make a reservation by calling Gold Coast Scuba at 954-616-5909.

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