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Stone Crab season begins, looks to be better than last year

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CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla (WFLA) – Stone Crab season begins Tuesday and many will head out on to the water to bring in the first catch of the season.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Scientist Ryan Gandy says overall the season’s opening catch is expected to be better than last years.

Thomas Shook, General Manager for Frenchy’s Stone Crab Company, tells 8 On Your Side his crews have been placing traps over the last 10 days all the way from Clearwater Beach up to Bayport.

Shook adds that his concern at this point is not the Red Tide they faced last year, but rather the good weather we have been having recently.

“Crabs tend to not crawl during nice weather. The nastier the weather, every time we get a cold front they crawl, so I’m hoping we don’t have a slow start, but our fingers are crossed and everybody is ready to go,” said Thomas Shook.

Shook says they have thousands of traps across the 12 boats his crews operate, and he is hoping to get anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of stone crab this first week.

He adds that this isn’t just big business for the Tampa Bay area, but it reaches out across the U.S.

“My largest markets are Chicago, NY, Vegas, and so on. I do take care of my restaurants here locally, but 90% is all shipped out of the state, so it’s not just huge state wide but huge nationwide,” added Shook.

Stone Crab season will close May 16, 2020.

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