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How To Catch Your Own Stone Crab
 
This has been a difficult year for Commercial Stone Crab trappers. The storms destroyed as many as 75% of their traps. This has increased the retail price of the available claws. If they aren't being caught by the commercial trapper there must be more available for the recreational Stone Crab hunters, either in inexpensive traps or for those willing to dive for the delectable claws.
 
Catching stone crabs is fairly easy. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allows anyone with a recreational fishing license to possess 1 gallon of claws (you can only harvest the claws, the crab MUST be released unharmed) per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
 
There are two main methods available to catch a stone crab dinner. You can put out your own traps or dive for them.
 
According to Florida law, any angler may use up to five stone crab traps. Recreational traps 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 and must be retrieved manually (no motorized trap pullers, those are for commercial use only) during daylight hours. Traps must not 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 (ghost trap).
 
Prerigged plastic and wire traps are available at most bait and tackle shops. Each usually less expensive then cost of a pound of jumbo claws at your favorite fish market.
 
Place your traps on rock or sand bottom for the best results. Recreational trappers usually use larger fish heads for bait. These will last up to a week, which makes it easier for the trapper to keep up with working the traps.
 
You can set each trap individually at different locations but it is suggested to set all five traps in a line and record the GPS coordinates for the traps at either end. Check your traps between every two to five days. This should give the crabs time to find and crawl into the traps before your bait is gone.
 
Diving, with SCUBA or snorkle gearsome practice. Learning where to locate and how to catch them may take a while but when you have mastered the technique it is quite easy. Shallow rock piles (they aren't called Stone crabs just because they look like stones but also because they live among them) or jetties are great places to start.
 
Cruise along the bottom edge of the rocks and examine each hole for the claws. If a Stone Crab occupies hole you will usually see sand and broken shells around the the opening. This is what the crab has excavated from its home.
 
Many divers use a short metal or heavy plastic rod with a 90-degree or less angled end (Any device with an angled end more then 90 degrees is considered a hook and is illegal) reach behind the crab and pull it out..
 
Once experienced many just reach in and grab their quarry by the claws. Although it may seem crazy to put a gloved hand into a hole with a creature that can break a finger, it is not as dangerous as it may seem. The speed of your grasp is the key. Stone crabs move fairly slowly, so in most cases you can pull them out and into the open before they clamp down on your fingers. Once you have them out of their hiding place release them to a clear spot on the bottom. When exposed and defensive they will raise their claws up toward you and you can then grab each claw in your hands.
 
First, before removing, you must measure the claw. The minimum claw size is 2 3/4 inches measured from the lower tip or "finger" to the first elbow joint. No claws may be taken from egg bearing females. Often only a minor twist of the claw will cause the crab to release it so be careful when handling them if you aren't sure they are legal size. Once you are ready to remove the claw, twist it toward the center of the crab and up.
 
Don't put your harvested claws on ice. This could cause the meat to stick to the shell. Set the claws into an empty cooler or your live bait well until you get home.
 
Source: http://fl-fishing.blogspot.com/2005/12/grab-your-own-crabs.html
 
Nutrition: How To Catch Your Own Stone Crab
 
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Stone Crab
Stone Crab Information   Stone Crab Recipes   Stone Crab Facts
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Stone Crab
Stone crabs are found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts but are commercially harvested almost entirely in Florida. Adult stone crabs are easily recognized by their oval body and two large claws.

The adult body of the stone crab is dark brownish red, more or less mottled and spotted with dusky gray.
Stone Crab
Stone Crab Information
Stone Crab
 
Stone Crab
Marinated Stone Crab Claws
Stone Crab Recipes
Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds frozen Florida stone crab claws
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon curry powder
 
 
Stone Crab Recipes
Stone Crab
 
Stone Crab
DID YOU KNOW?
·   Fishermen take only the claws of stone crabs and return the live crab back to the water. Stone crabs can regenerate their claws the next time they molt.
·   Stone crabs are usually "right-handed", meaning that the larger crusher claw is usually on the right.
Stone Crab Facts
Stone Crab
Stone Crab