The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Trapping and Catching Stone Crab
I got to thinking about some of the really delicious things that come out of the ocean, especially after a great day of the best Florida fishing! Among them is the oh so delicious Stone Crab Claws! For those of you who live here in Florida, and maybe some of you who are visiting, I thought I would put together some of the tips and tricks we use to harvest some succulent claws. The season for Stone Crab is currently open and stretches from October 15 to May 15.
The retail price of Stone Crab claws is always high. We have always enjoyed fresh claws and used to make it a point to go occasionally with friends on a foray for them using either commercially made inexpensive traps or snorkleing gear to dive for the Stone Crabs.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) allows anyone with a recreational fishing license to possess up to 1 gallon of claws (By the way, you can only harvest the claws, the crab MUST be released unharmed) per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
Again, here are two methods that you can use to catch a Stone Crab Claw dinner. You can put out your own traps or dive for the crustaceans.
- Florida law allows any recreational angler to use up to five stone crab traps.
- The rules for recreational traps are simple and straightforward, and must meet the following criteria:
- Buoys must have a legible "R" at least two inches high, permanently affixed to them.
- Traps must have the harvester's name and address affixed to them in legible letters.
- Traps must be retrieved manually during daylight hours.
- Traps cannot be placed in navigational channels or waterways.
- Each trap must have a degradable wooden panel equal to the size of the entry hole on the top of the trap. This panel is designed to rot away and allow crabs and other creatures to escape should the trap ever be lost. This avoids it becoming a ghost trap.
When situating your traps, look for rocks, cover like some old tires or a shallow wreck, or sand bottom for the best results. Use large fish heads for bait as they will usually last a week, which makes it easier for you to keep up with the traps. Half a ladyfish is also very good, as is a good sized Jack Cervalle.
I would suggest that you set up all of your traps (up to five, remember) in a line about one hundred feet apart, and record the GPS coordinates at each end. Give your traps three to five days, and check them. This will give the crabs time to find your traps and enter.
Snorkleing takes a little practice, but is loads of fun! Not only will you see all sorts of marine life, but you will recover TONS of fishing gear! Seriously. Shallow rock piles and jetties are great places to started at, and of course great places for fishermen to snag and lose gear. Be careful though. Dont get tangled up in any fishing line, or snagged by a rusty old hook. Bring diagonal cutters and a mesh bag for any treasures you come upon.
Check along the bottom edge of the rocks and examine each hole for the telltale sign of the crabs. If a Stone Crab occupies the hole, you will usually see sand and broken shells littered about the the opening of his excavation.
Most divers use a short metal or heavy plastic rod with a 90-degree or more angled end to reach behind the crab and pull it out. Remember, that anything less than 90-degrees is considered a hook and is therefore illegal!
Image Credit: Pinellas Marina
Note: I just found this!
Studies by the state of Florida have shown that removing both claws do not harm the Florida stone crab in any way when removed properly. In fact numerous studies have shown that by removing both claws, Florida stone crabs are forced to eat sea grass which has been proven to be more healthy for their diet and regenerate their claws faster and female Florida stone crab have more baby stone crabs since they are unable to fend off the advancements of the male crabs. Now that I have science to rely on I can create double amputees without any guilt! Study here.
Try to release your clawless crab close to the rock pile you harvested them from. If you got them from a sand bottom area, try to find the closest rocks or jetty and release them there. The abundance of food and cover will allow them to regenerate more quickly.
Our next installment on Stone Crabs will be preparing them for the table!
Until then, Good Hunting, and Great Fishing!
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...
Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.