Ron and I first tasted stone crab 8 years ago in Marathon, our first winter cruising season. Ron wasn’t that impressed; I remember liking its sweet flavor and being surprised that it was served cold. The claws weren’t that large, and if memory serves me right, we paid around $2 per claw. It was an appetizer.
We learned (from first hand experience) that picking up a crab pot on your keel or rudder can eventually stop you dead in the water. It’s a tiring day keeping a constant look-out for the buoys, dodging them, as you make your way up the southwest coast. We even have crab pots lining the mooring area here at Fort Myers Beach, sandwiched between the channel markers.
This season, stone crab is VERY pricey (see above photo). Our understanding is that the persistent red tide over this past year is impacting the health of stone crab along with so much of the other sea life here in Florida. The catches are way down from previous years. Stone crab claws must be cooked dockside on the same day they are caught or they will spoil, so crabbers must be able to get out to their fishing grounds and back to shore in time on their boats. (Crabbers remove a claw from the live crabs and then return the animals to the water to regrow them.)
We are just fine staying with our favorite: pink Gulf shrimp. They are still a good value. –jes