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Stone crabs -2013 season

This wharf rat always hangs out at the docks around Oct. 15. Trap pulls yesterday were disappointing, about the same as last year which was the worst since 2005. Bummer. As of today, large/jumbo are $17/lb at A.P. Bell in Cortez, likely to go up. Pinchers Crab Shack offers a 1 lb. dinner of mediums for $28, $35 for large. Moore's Stone Crab restaurant on Longboat Key has 3 stone crab menus, each with different prices. At the Columbia on St. Armands Circle, a 1 lb. order of medium/large is $32 - used to be around $25.
Not an encouraging start.

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  1. Ooo...not good news, especially since I'm heading for stone crab territory next week. Let's hope today's boats have better success.

    1. Veggo, besides the knee-jerk conclusion of overfishing, what are the reasons for the lousy seasons of 2005 and 2012 (and likely 2013)?
      What factors inproved conditions between 2005 and 2012?
      Just curious.

      18 Replies
      1. re: porker

        Last year they blamed a shift in water currents and temperature, plus a proliferation of octopi, which prey on stone crabs, and also raid the crab traps and steal the bait. Octopi were cheap last year, they could hardly give them away. Overfishing has not been the issue, there is a level number of traps. Similarly, Maine lobsters have a wide range of ebb and flow, and nobody knows exactly why. We take what we can get while we can (credit to Janis Joplin).

        1. re: Veggo

          How come I rarely see fresh octopus in the markets?

          Eat more octopus. Save the stone crabs

          1. re: scubadoo97

            I concur! Many are sold to Chinese restaurants, some are sold as bait. Very little demand in gringo markets, I can find it frozen in Latin markets but I never manage to prepare it well. Next time I will do the boil before the dry rub grilling. A.P. Bell in Cortez sells it fresh, the ones that raided their crab traps. They would much prefer to be selling more stone crabs.

            1. re: Veggo

              Veggo,
              I've had great success with Harold McGee's method outlined in this article http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/din.... I followed with a short time on the grill to enhance flavor.

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Tricky critters. I learned how delicious they can be at Negrosal in Playa del Carmen, which has since closed. There is still octopus (pulpo) ceviche around. There are also stone crabs off the Yucatan and Belize Cays.

                1. re: Veggo

                  Ahhh, ceviche mixto with the triad of fish/octopus/shrimp...used to eat this at least every second day!

                  Hey Veggo, do you remember an open air seafood market in PDC just above 10th? Its been a long time - they're no longer there (replaced by Chedraui and Walmart and likely Cisco, etc). I'm thinking 4th or 6th?

                  Thing is, they'd sell shrimp and fish and squid and octupus, weigh everything out with the same, in-the-sun, no-washing-before-next-use, rusty scale.
                  I used to buy stuff as bait there, yet many folks were buying it for their restaurant kitchens.
                  Never stopped me from eating anywhere, just had to put it out of my mind when ordering ceviche!

                  1. re: porker

                    That's where the new Municipio building is. Lovely grounds with fountains and staues, and several times a year they have concerts and festivals. LOUD ones.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Ahhh, OK.
                      I once saw that park circled with tables holding a seemingly endless King Cake. A bunch of politicos were taking turns giving long speaches on a stage, but HUNDREDS of kids were just waiting for that cake to be cut..

                      1. re: porker

                        As someone might have said, "Que todos comen pandolce!"
                        Let them eat cake!

                2. re: scubadoo97

                  Veggo, When we get into a "herd" of Octopus when bottom fishing, (20-35'), I will put the creatures in a COVERED 5 gal. bucketof ice until they are killed. If you use an uncovered bucket they tend to scamper at warp speed to the closest scupper! I drop them in boiling water for about 8-10 minutes, then use a terry type of towel to wipe off the skin, some are then frozen, others are seasoned, flipped in olive oil and grilled. Eaten right off the flame or cooled to room temp and sliced thinly in a Fruta di Mare salad. GREAT!!!

                  Any update from A.P. on the catch of claws?

                  1. re: ospreycove

                    I'll check with Karen next week. Thanks for the octopus tips. They are a lot cheaper than stone crabs if I can ever learn to prepare them well!

                3. re: Veggo

                  Veggo,

                  Red Mesa on Fourth Street North in St. Petersburg surprised me. I ordered the regular ceviche and the waiter returned to inform me that they were completely out of it. He recommended the octopus ceviche. I was skeptical but went along with his recommendation. It was thinly sliced and the most tender octopus I had ever had. Based on the size of the rounds I was eating, it must have been a very young octopus.

                  I've also had pretty good luck with the charcoal grilled octopus at Mykonos in Tarpon Springs, although I prefer the charcoal grilled calamari.

                  Creative Loafing recommended the baked octopus at Vizcaya, a tapas place on North Dale Mabry in Tampa, but I have never had it. The photo was of a prodigious amount of meat.

                  The topic was stone crabs, but you and Scubadoo97 mentioned it and these thoughts came to mind.

                  1. re: gfr1111

                    "The topic was stone crabs, but ..."
                    Big Brother Chow Police around every corner!
                    Hehe.

                    1. re: porker

                      Unfortunately, octopi and stone crabs meet up too often, to the detriment of the crabs.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        News reports poor stone crab yields this year so might as well talk about octopus

                    2. re: gfr1111

                      The octopus at Vizcaya is excellent. Have you been since the remodel? We have been once for dinner and once for drinks in the lounge. The remodel is fantastic.

                      1. re: rhnault

                        Rhnault,

                        I love the remodel. It is so warm and inviting. I still have not had the octopus, though.

              1. Oct. 24 - At A.P. Bell today, mediums are $12, large/jumbo $17, supply is low.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Veggo

                  At the Sarasota Farmers' mkt today the fish guy had Jumbos for $30.00/lb. Getting a little sporty eh?