Candy, Catchin’, and Crabs are the highlight of the month of October each year in South Florida. The kids are gearing up to maximize their sugar stuffing efforts, guides are out fishing everyday as usual, and yes it’s finally the long awaited reopening of Stone Crab Season. This year I decided to invite a friend and neighbor of mine Jose Wejebe from the Spanish Fly Television Show for the first pull of the season.
With hopes of Jumo’s in our traps Jose and I loaded up the skiff and headed into the backcountry where our traps have been soaking. Along the way we passed a large pod of dolphins and all sorts of other marine life common to The Florida Keys. After a few minutes of soul calming observation we continued on the short ride to the 1st buoy. Since Jose was my guest I gave him the opportunity for the first pull of the season. After a little bit of huffing and puffing the 25 lb.+ black box full of crabs emmerged. Our first pull of the season was definitely a great one.
After a few seconds of “hootin’ and hollarin'” it was time for the real work to begin. Each crab has to be separated and each claw has to be measured with a device to make sure it’s legal to keep. All while managing not to get bit by their freakishly strog claws. Once we find a claw that is legal we simply separate it from the body and toss the still live crab back into the water. The crab will immediately start to grow a new claw and will reach legal size in just a few short months. That is the best part about this sort of fishing. No crab has to die for us to have some fun and eat well. Once all the crabs have been cleaned out of the trap we simply rebait it with more pigs feet and close the lid and send it back down for another weeks worth of soaking.
* To be kept, claws must be 2.75 inches (70 mm) long. Measuring devices can be found in local retail stores.
* Sexual maturity is reached at one year. Their long spawning season lasts all spring and summer, during which time females produce 500,000 to 1 million eggs. Their lifespan is seven to eight years.
* Stone Crab Tip
October 15th each year marks the first day Florida Stone Crab fisherman are allowed to pull their traps. To get an advantage we generally bait them with the usual pigs feet and set them out a week in advance to make the first pull that much more productive. Allowing the traps to soak for a minimum of 5 days if not more is always the key to getting the most Stone Crabs in each trap. For more tips such as this be sure to stay tuned to Marathon Fishing each month for a new report.