Today is opening day for stone crabs on the Gulf Coast. For many this means time to grab dinner at a seafood eatery and enjoy one of the greatest delicacies from our waters. Commercial boats bring in fresh claws daily, which are quickly taken by consumers. Few make it out of Florida. Recreational anglers also can catch stone crabs, and somehow free claws taste just a little bit better. There are several ways to catch stone crabs recreationally. One is trapping. State law allows anyone with a Florida fishing license to use up to five traps. Those can be purchased relatively cheap from commercial supply houses. For around $25, or about the price of 1 pound of large claws, you can own a trap that could yield 20 pounds or more over a season. There's some labor involved and the catch varies year to year, but the resource is open to everyone. Diving is another way to gather crab claws. Scuba divers and snorkelers get them by reaching into underwater holes and pulling the crustaceans out. State law requires stone crab claws measure 2¾ inches from the lower tip of the claw to the first joint. There are other requirements for trapping that can be found at myfwccom.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 944-3474.