Do you want to stop paying high prices for stone crabs at restaurants and fish markets? Well, you should look into catching them yourself! All you need is a few plastic black traps, dead bait, boat access and some free time. Stone crab season starts October 15th and ends May 15th; so there is still plenty of time to stock your freezer for a celebration dinner, romantic dinner for two, or just because.
First things first, buy and build your traps. Head over to your local tackle shop, and pick up black plastic traps. I know, Fishermans Ideal Supply House has everything one could need in order to get traps up and running. After you get the traps built the next step is to include a breakaway door. This should be a 5.5in x 3.5in piece of cypress or untreated pine slate that is no thicker than 3/4 of an inch. The reason traps are to have breakaway doors is for instances when a trap gets lost-the wood will rot away allowing the trapped crabs to escape unharmed.
After the breakaway door is made the next step is to fill the bottom of your trap with concrete. Do not skimp on the amount of concrete you use. Make sure your traps are heavy enough to withstand 30mph winds and high seas from passing cold fronts throughout the winter. After, the concrete floors are made let them dry for a day or two.
While the newly concreted traps are set aside to dry, it is time to decide on the length of rope to use. It is very important to have the correct length of line connected to your trap, say for instance you set your traps in 20 feet of water, one should set aside anywhere from 25-27 feet of rope. Now the next task is to prevent the rope from floating, why? Because floating rope can get tangled in your propeller or better yet another boat passing by. Weighing down your rope is simple, take a weight and slide or tie it about half way up the rope then attach another every 6 feet from that point.
Now that the traps are built and the line is ready, it is time to paint your buoys. As a recreational crabber you would add a large 'R' on the trap in whichever color-way you selected. This shows the FWC and commercial crabbers that you are a recreational crabber. For each saltwater fishing license you are allowed to run five traps. So in this case, the more the merrier!
By now your traps are rigged and its time to get some dead bait! One can use previously caught fish carcasses, mullet, ladyfish, etc. Once you have your traps filled with bait it is time to pick your spot. People tend to drop traps on hard bottom, grass flats, or wherever they feel may hold some crabs. Once you deploy the trap let it sit for a week or two before checking them. This may take some trial and error, but once you get dialed in the reward is so worth it!
For a claw to be legal is must measure 2 3/4" long. For any and all other information regarding stone crab regulations and requirement please visit:https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/stone-crab/
Check it out, it is always better to be safe than sorry!