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The Florida Stone Crab Season is Open on the Suncoast – Time to Enjoy!

| Suncoast Post Staff |

It’s that time again – stone crab season here in Florida! The cooler temperatures usher in a seasonal harvest and festival traditions here on the Suncoast. While Ian is expected to impact the season a little, no one yet knows the extent until we get further into the season. Commercial trap tags were suspended to try and get trappers in business as quickly as possible to allow the best season possible this year.

Things to Know About Stone Crab Seasons

  • Stone Crab season runs from October 15, 2022, through May 1, 2023.
  • Only the claws are harvested as stone crabs can regenerate their appendages 3-4 times in a crab’s lifetime.
  • There are limits even for recreational crab fishers of one gallon of stone crab claws or 2 gallons per boat.
  • The minimum sizes for the claws to legally be harvested are 2 7/8 inches.
  • Adult stone crabs are easily recognizable by their dark brownish-red oval bodies and a unique marking on the inside of their claw that resembles a thumbprint.

Trivia About These Crabs

  • Most stone crabs use their right claw most, so the biggest claws are from the right side of the crab.
  • Females live longer than males, about eight or nine years, versus a male at seven or eight years.
  • Female stone crabs lay egg masses called a sponge that can contain up to 1 million eggs.
  • Fishermen don’t harvest the claws from females with eggs present.
  • Stone crabs are extremely strong, producing up to 19,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. This strength helps them to eat mollusks, oysters, clams, hermit crabs, blue crabs, flatworms, mussels, and more.

Where to Enjoy Stone Crab This Year

Supporting small businesses and events around the Suncoast is a great way to support the stone-crab-sustained businesses. Here are some local businesses for your stone crab enjoyment this season.

  • Cortez Fishing Village – was founded in the 1880s by settlers from North Carolina and is considered the oldest and one of the last remaining fishing villages in Florida. Keep an eye on the local vendors in the village for events featuring not just stone crab but fresh fish options and events year-round.
  • Cortez Stone Crab & Music Festival – Annual festival held on November 12 & 13, 2022. This event is held in the parking lot of Swordfish Grill and Tiki Bar.  This event features two days of live music, fresh seafood, a beer tent, a kid’s area, and local art vendors.
  • Cortez Bait & Seafood Fish Market – The Cortez Bait & Seafood Company has been the place for the “locals” to go for many years. Cortez, Florida, a fishing village, is known for its fresh fish and local catch! You can buy fresh stone crabs here to prepare at home.
  • Swordfish Grill and TikiThe Swordfish team incorporates many elements that result in a great dining experience. Firstly, the atmosphere at the Swordfish Grill. Like a jewel hiding in the mystique of the Cortez Fishing Village, the Swordfish Grill is right on Sarasota Bay, creating a place that initiates relaxation and a laid-back ambiance. The

Whether you are headed out to the waters to harvest stone crabs or visiting a local business to enjoy them – it’s one of the favorite years here on the Suncoast. Stone crabs are one of the best exports from Florida for many, and we are privileged to have the freshest available directly from the waters of the Suncoast. Get out and enjoy this wonderful time of year’s festivals, food, and fun.


Photo by Deposit Photos

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