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Thread: Stone Crabbing 411

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Stone Crabbing 411

    Some info to help:

    You need a good pair of gloves and some balls. Not trying to be a dick but if you are a pansy you will not be very successful unless you use traps. The gloves don't need to be your standard spearfishing kevlar gloves, heavy duty gardening gloves from the hardware store for $2 will work (for a few trips). I've been crabbing by hand for 15 years and have only been pinched hard maybe 6 times. They are not like blue crabs, blue crabs are Samurai sword-wielding terrorists and will die in order to defend themselves. Stone crabs are very passive and will attempt to dig and burrow themselves away from you (or your hand). A small 18-inch aluminum or fiberglass ticklestick (local dive shops or hardware store) works well too to coerce the crabs out of small areas where your hands can't reach. As far as holes go if you're reaching into a hole that you cannot see the bottom of always keep your hand on top of the hole till you reach the bottom. Two reasons: 1. When you reach the bottom if there is a crab there he will always be facing towards the hole opening so just put your fingers to the back of the hole and scoop him out. 2. Keeping your hand on top of the hole till it reaches the back allows you to hit any unfriendlys (toad fish, i.e. oyster cracker) that may be in the hole on their back giving them the opportunity to flee verses having to try to defend themselves and biting you. You must also be comfortable with being in water that has very low visibility. If you're using scuba under some of the local bridges (there are many) a light can be useful at times as well as some additional weight if the current is cranking. Remember, you want to stay on the bottom with very little effort on your part, being overweighted can be essential. Using Google Earth you shouldn't have any issues with finding accessible areas to stone crab without the use of scuba gear though. A good way to find good locations is go out on a very low tide. Any areas that have rocks but are completely exposed with visible sand at low tide will NOT hold crabs. They also like areas with lots of moving water so being comfortable in current is another must. There are lots of places to go in the Tampa Bay area, just use your local knowledge, Google Earth, and follow FWC dive and harvest regulations, and most importantly, GET IN THE WATER AND LOOK.

    Lots of people throw junk off their docks, you'd be amazed at the amount of crabs holding under docks.

    Seawalls where the bottom does not become exposed with a low tide are areas to look for them, rocks don't have to be there either.

    Most of the crabs we harvest from bridges are not in rocks, they are butted right up against the concrete piling.

    When working a rock set or set of pilings, work upcurrent so all the debris from working a crab out goes behind you and not into your field of vision.

    If you toss a crab up into the water column he will extend his claws out like parachutes allowing you to easily grab both claws.

    While they look like good spots, jetties with rocks that are 2 to 3 feet in diameter are normally NOT good places to harvest stone crabs. If the crabs do hold there they are usually so far back into the rocks that you'll never have a good harvest (you might find one or two). If the jetty meets the requirements for you to shoot fish there, bring the gun and find another location for stone crabs.

    In FL, you DO need to carry a dive flag even if you're snorkeling.

    You CAN take both claws if they are of legal size.

    MEASURE your claws BEFORE ripping them off the crab. Sounds kind of difficult but with some practice it's very simple. We use ticklesticks with duct tape marking the required claw length rather than carrying a separate measuring device.

    You can NOT harvest the whole crab, just the claw.

    You can NOT harvest claws from females with eggs. Be conservation minded, you'll see a lot of these early in the season.

    ONE short claw WILL get you a ticket and most likely a court appearance. If in doubt leave it for the next trip as they grow and molt quickly and often.

    If harvesting from a boat or from shore without a mesh bag, keep your claws in a bucket or cooler with enough saltwater to completely cover them. You do not need to add ice to the water. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil (add some Old Bay seasoning to the water if you like it). While you're waiting for the water to come to a full boil prepare another bucket or cooler with ice and water. When your pot of water is at a full boil add your claws to the water. Cook for 8 minutes. Remove claws and put them into the bucket/cooler that you prepared with ice and water. Let them sit for 5 minutes and then enjoy the hell out of your hard work! You can store cooked claws in a ziplock bag in the fridge for maybe a week at best. I've never froze them but I have heard that they taste like crap if you do.

    FWC Stone Crab Regulations

    Stone crab claws must measure at least 2 3/4-inches in length measured by a straight line from the elbow to the tip of the lower immovable finger (claw). The forearm (propodus) shall be deemed to be the largest section of the claw assembly that has both a moveable and immovable finger and is located farthest from the body of the crab.

    Last edited by NSEARCH; 10-13-2011 at 12:30 PM.

  2. #2
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    A couple things....

    After pulling them out of the hole, you can juggle them which removes a lot of the silt so you can see. This disorientes the crab so you can easily grab his claws. Be forceful and quick. You go at it like a little girl and you'll get bit.

    Concerning the removal of the claw...do NOT break the claw off with reckless abandon. This will cause the whole knuckle of the claw to be ripped out from the body and the crab will die.
    Add downward steady force on the claw. The crab will 'let go' of the claw in about 4 seconds. It breaks clean, the crab lives, and produces more claws.
    In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. ~Mark Twain

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    THANKS for the very informative post.!
    I did my time under docks and hull cleaning.....

    I am a puzzy when it comes to this type of diving. After going with Adam on opening night I am gearing up for some of the crab fun for sure.!


    Dago.
    Take me to your wreck.!

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    Bryan,

    Thanks for the great post, good info. I really want to go crabbing.
    Last edited by sylvester-tj; 10-21-2009 at 12:21 PM.

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    Very helpful.

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    Great advice i cant wait to get out this weekend ive been preparing some secret spots around the bay over the past 2 years and they're really holding a lot this season along with some nice fish that will provably be introduced to my new rob allen vecta

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    I'm so glad you shared that information. I was thinking about asking how to go about it, but hesitated, not wanting to be the "dumbazz".

    Awesome. I think I will go tmrw.

    I know where there are, reportedly, 100 plus.

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    Great post,thanks. Am going to try it this year and that really helped.
    Florida Freeshafter

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    First time last week with some experts and boy was I a wuss. Second day it was much easier. Need to just strap a pair on !!
    John "JP" Petracco
    Ft. Myers FL
    Ambergris Caye Belize

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    great info, thanks, hopefully will get out to get some soon

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    Bryan,

    Any tips on breaking off the claws with-out killing the crab?

  12. #12
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    Marcus's description was pretty good. While I don't wait for the crab to "let go" of it's claw I always hold the crab so that it's back legs are against my chest. Let's say the left claw is short and the right claw is legal. With my left hand I'll hold the left claw and body together so no movement from that side is possible. With my right hand on the right (legal) claw I'll point the tip of the claw at the underside of the crab and then push down and in. You are inevitably going to knock off a couple of crabs learning but take your time and you'll get it down. The claw will cleanly break a quarter-inch or so from the body and he/she will live to grow another one. It's definitely a lot harder to describe on the internet than it would be show you in person.

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    Could you shear the claw off with a kitchen scissors?

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    no scissors. a pair of bolt cutters maybe. it's pretty easy to do. Like Bryan said it's easier to show then describe over the net.

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    RipTide, please reread out loud the very first sentence of this thread

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    Gloves aren't a problem.

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    blue crabs are Samurai sword-wielding terrorists and will die in order to defend themselves.

    So true, when I dove for them this summer the big jimmies would come after me like they could rip my head off. I love it.


    Edit - Guy on a fishing forum Im on posted this, crab noodling

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBZYL4BMp_0
    Last edited by AKscuba; 10-23-2009 at 09:58 PM.

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    bump

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    I have my 15 traps in the water soaking with 33 #'s of pigs feet, as we speak.
    SPUC
    1987 Mako 254 with twin 175 ETEC's
    1984 Mako 17 with 115 Suzuki

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    Great info and it sounds like fun. Thanks. We should all post our largest opening day claw to see who get the biggest one.

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