Stone crab claws are a delicacy well worth the effort, and whether you’re diving for them or pulling them up in a trap, recreational harvest is open and will remain so until May 1.
In previous years, the season has run through May 15. FWC implemented several regulations changes this year to bolster populations. Along with changes to trap requirements, the minimum length for legally harvestable claws has been increased from 2 ¾ inches to 2 7/8 inches. That means you’ll need a new measuring device to make sure your dinner is legal.
Trapping is the most efficient method of collecting the legal limit of 1-gallon of stone crab claws per-person, per-day. There is a 2-gallon possession limit per vessel. Requirements for stone crab traps are also very specific. Check current regulations at myfwc.com before dropping traps. Recreational harvesters are allowed up to five traps. Drop them, baited with fish heads, near sandy or rocky structure.
Although it’s not nearly as easy as pulling traps, diving for stone crabs is a lot of fun. Look for crushed shells in front of holes in the rocks or reef. Use a tickle stick to pull crabs out of their holes. Once you’ve got a crab out in the open, it will usually take a defensive posture and threaten with its claws. Using gloved hands, either grab the crab by both claws or get a hold of its body safely behind the claws. Be careful of those claws, though, a stone crab is capable of breaking fingers.
It is illegal to harvest claws from egg-bearing females. Although it is permitted to take both claws if they are of legal length, most people take just one to leave the crab with something to feed and defend itself with.
For more information, go to myfwc.com.