How do you know it's Stone Crab Season on Longboat Key?

We were showing a property to clients by boat this afternoon and suddenly realized it’s October 5th.  What’s October 5th, you ask?  It’s 10 days prior to the start of stone crab season; the 1st day traps can be set for the 2023 season.  Mark your calendar – 1st harvest is Sunday, October 15th, when fishermen are permitted to collect their catch and deliver the delicious bounty to wholesalers, restaurants, and fish markets.

Longboat Key, Florida, is a breathtaking destination not only for its beautiful beaches and serene atmosphere but also for the delectable “Longboat Key Florida stone crab season” that arrives every year. The excitement is palpable as the season brings a fresh perspective to the culinary scene, offering locals and visitors a chance to indulge in this scrumptious treat. In this blog post, we will take you on a mouthwatering journey through the Longboat Key, Florida, stone crab season, exploring the intricacies of harvesting, the best places to enjoy them, and tips on how to prepare them at home.

Whether you’re a seasoned stone crab enthusiast or a curious first-timer, this blog post will provide you with everything you need to know about the Longboat Key, Florida, stone crab season, from its dates and details to the various ways you can enjoy these delicious crustaceans at restaurants or in the comfort of your own home. So, let’s dive in and discover the wonders of the Longboat Key Florida stone crab season!

Question: How do you know it’s Fall on Longboat Key?

Answer: Initial sightings of...

- Car haulers on the Gulf of Mexico Drive full of out-of-state vehicles,

- White pelicans on the Intracoastal sandbars, and

- Stone crab trap buoys everywhere

Key Takeaways

  • Longboat Key’s Stone Crab Season runs from October 15th to May 1st.

  • Harvesting and consuming stone crabs is eco-friendly and sustainable, with recommended serving sizes of 2-3 ounces per person.

  • Local fish markets and online ordering provide access to fresh stone crab catches during the season, regulated by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission guidelines.

  • Recreational fishers age 16 and older (including those normally exempt from needing a license) are required to complete an online, no-cost recreational stone and/or blue crab trap registration before using stone or blue crab traps. To register, visit and add the Recreational Stone Crab Trap Registration or the Recreational Blue Crab Trap Registration to your fishing license account.

Longboat Key's Stone Crab Season: Dates and Details

A plate of freshly cooked stone crab claws

The highly anticipated stone crab season in Longboat Key commences on October 15th and runs May 1st, offering a delightful culinary experience for both locals and visitors alike.

Key regulations for stone crab harvesting include:

  • Minimum claw size of 2 7/8 inches to ensure sustainability and preserve the stone crab population

  • Daily catch limits of one gallon of claws per person or two gallons per vessel, whichever is less

  • Prohibition on harvesting from egg-bearing crabs

Next, we will explore the season’s duration and the harvesting process that brings these delicacies to our plates.

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Season Duration

Longboat Key stone crab season

The stone crab season in Longboat Key lasts from October 15th to May 1st, with the peak duration falling between these months. Weather can play a significant role in the availability and abundance of stone crabs during the season, as it can interfere with fishing and harvesting and impact the crustaceans' migration, behavior, and crab molts.

Despite potential weather-related challenges, the stone crab season remains a highly anticipated event, with seafood enthusiasts and stone crab lovers eagerly awaiting the arrival of these tasty treats and enjoying stone crab.

While no specific festivities or occasions are associated with the commencement or conclusion of the stone crab season in Longboat Key, the mere arrival of these delicious crustaceans is enough to create an atmosphere of celebration and indulgence.

Harvesting Process

Stone crabs are primarily harvested using traps, which are a sustainable and eco-friendly method of procuring these sought-after crustaceans. The design of a stone crab trap typically consists of:

  • A rectangular or pyramid-shaped frame crafted from plastic or wood

  • Each trap must have the owner’s stone crab endorsement number firmly affixed

  • All plastic and wood stone crab traps must be outfitted with a 2 3/16-inch escape ring before the 2023/2024 season

Stone crab claws are almost exclusively harvested in Florida, and an interesting aspect of Florida stone crabs is their ability to regenerate a new claw if they lose one during a molt. This unique feature allows for a sustainable harvest, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the exquisite taste of stone crabs.

Enjoying Fresh Stone Crabs on Longboat Key

A plate of freshly cooked stone crab claws with a side of drawn butter

Having understood the basics of the stone crab season and the harvesting process, we can now uncover the delights of relishing fresh stone crabs on Longboat Key. With an abundance of restaurants offering stone crab dishes, such as Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, and Walt’s Fish Market, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to satisfying your stone crab cravings.

Maximize your stone crab dining experience by familiarizing yourself with the signature dishes and learning some reservation tips for an unforgettable meal.

Signature Dishes

One of the most popular ways to enjoy stone crabs is by savoring their claws. They are typically served:

  • Cold

  • With mustard sauce or lightly salted butter and lemons

  • The claws are often pre-cracked, making it easier for diners to extract the tender meat within

  • The mustard sauce is a traditional accompaniment, made with a blend of mayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce

For those who prefer their stone crab claws served hot, here are some delicious alternatives:

  • Steaming the claws until heated through and serving them with melted butter for dipping

  • Stone crab rolls

  • Stone crab chowder

  • Stone crab salad

In addition to the classic claw dishes, these variations are popular in Longboat Key, a part of the Gulf Coast, providing a diverse range of options for stone crab aficionados.

A meal featuring stone crabs wouldn’t be complete without a delectable dessert. Key lime pie is a classic choice, with a traditional recipe consisting of a graham cracker crust, a filling made from key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk, and topped with whipped cream.

Longboat Key Restaurants

Longboat Key boasts a variety of restaurants that offer an array of stone crab dishes, each providing a unique dining experience:

  • Star Fish: This seafood restaurant offers a laid-back atmosphere with waterfront dining, perfect for enjoying fresh stone crabs while taking in the beautiful views.

    Star Fish Co. Cortez Florida

    Swordfish Grill: Known for its casual setting and live music, Swordfish Grill serves up a variety of seafood dishes, including stone crabs, when in season.

    Swordfish Grill and Tiki bar Cortez Florida

    Cortez Fish & Bait: A local favorite, this restaurant offers a simple, unpretentious setting to enjoy fresh, locally sourced seafood, including stone crabs.

    Cortez Bait & Seafood, Cortez Florida

    Mar Vista: Situated on the bay, Mar Vista offers a rustic, old Florida atmosphere where diners can enjoy their stone crabs under the shade of ancient Buttonwood trees.

    Mar Vista Restuarant Longboat Key Florida

    SandBar: A beachfront restaurant offering a more sophisticated dining experience, SandBar is known for its fresh seafood and farm-to-table approach to dining.

    The Sandbar Restaurant Anna Maria lsland

    Beach House: This restaurant is known for its waterfront dining, innovative menu, and commitment to fresh, local ingredients, including stone crabs during the season.

    Beach House Waterfront Restaurant

    Lazy Lobster: Offering a casual dining experience, Lazy Lobster is known for its extensive seafood menu and friendly service.

    Lazy Lobster Longboat Key Florida

    Harrys: A combination of a continental restaurant, deli, and corner store, Harrys offers a unique dining experience and serves stone crabs when in season.

    Harry's Continental Kitchen Longboat Key Florida

    Dry Dock: Located on the waterfront, Dry Dock is known for its stunning views, fresh seafood, and friendly service.

Dry Dock Waterfront Grill Longboat Key Florida

Reservation Tips

To ensure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to savor fresh stone crabs at your chosen restaurant, it’s a good idea to:

  1. Call ahead and reserve a table.

  2. Confirm the availability of stone crab offerings.

  3. Making reservations a few weeks in advance is recommended, especially during the peak stone crab season, as popular restaurants can fill up quickly.

Operating hours of restaurants in Longboat Key may vary during the stone crab season, so it’s advisable to consult the individual restaurant’s website or contact them directly for their specific hours.

By following these reservation tips, you can guarantee a delightful stone crab dining experience on Longboat Key.

Preparing Stone Crabs at Home

A plate of freshly cooked stone crab claws with a glass of wine

Their preparation is quite straightforward if you fancy savoring stone crabs at home. Given the right serving size recommendations and cooking tips, a delicious stone crab feast for family and friends can be easily whipped up.

Understanding the serving size recommendations and the cooking and serving suggestions can greatly aid your home preparation of stone crabs.

Serving Size Recommendations

When it comes to determining the perfect serving size for stone crab claws, it is customary to serve three claws per person. The average weight of a stone crab claw can vary depending on its size, with medium-sized claws typically weighing between two and three ounces and large claws weighing up to half a pound.

Not only are stone crabs a delicious treat, but they also provide numerous health benefits. Here are some of the benefits:

  • They are rich in protein, essential for building and maintaining muscle

  • They are a good source of essential minerals such as chromium and selenium

  • They are high in vitamins, particularly B12

  • They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect against heart disease.

Cooking and Serving Suggestions

To prepare and enjoy stone crabs at home, you can follow a few simple cooking and serving suggestions. Stone crab claws can be served chilled for a classic cold dish, accompanied by either hot butter or mustard sauce. If you prefer your stone crabs hot, steaming the claws until heated through and serving them with melted butter for dipping is a tasty alternative.

To make the mustard sauce, mix mayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce together until thoroughly combined. For hot drawn butter sauce, melt half a stick of butter in a skillet over medium heat, add sliced lemon wedges for easy squeezing, and cook until the butter is melted and the sauce is hot.

Regardless of your preferred serving method, stone crabs are best enjoyed cold, as the cold temperature helps preserve the flavor and texture of the meat. By following these cooking and serving tips, you can easily prepare and savor stone crabs in the comfort of your own home.

Recreational Stone Crab Fishing in Longboat Key

Stone crab traps

Catching your own stone crabs can be an exciting pastime in Longboat Key. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has in place guidelines for trap setting and harvesting to promote sustainable recreational stone crab fishing and protect the species.

Examining the FWC guidelines for trap setting and harvesting and the ongoing conservation efforts will help understand the measures for preserving the stone crab population.

Trap Setting and Harvesting Guidelines

Longboat Key stone crab season setting stone crab traps

Participation in recreational stone crab fishing requires compliance with the FWC guidelines for trap setting, which encompass mandatory registration, unique trap number assignment, and trap size specifications. Visit to register for recreational stone crab fishing. You can add the Recreational Stone Crab Trap Registration or the Recreational Blue Crab Trap Registration to your fishing license account.

Each registered individual is assigned a unique trap registration number, which must be permanently affixed to each trap, along with the owner’s full name and address. The size specifications for stone crab traps are a maximum of 24 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches or a volume of 8 cubic feet, and traps must be constructed from either wood, wire, or plastic.

Conservation Efforts

Conservation efforts for the stone crab population include regulations on minimum size limits, daily bag limits, and seasonal openings to protect this valuable resource. The minimum size limit for stone crab claws is 2 7/8 inches, ensuring that only mature crabs are harvested. The daily bag limit for stone crab claws is one gallon per individual.

In addition to these regulations, stone crab fishermen are encouraged to leave one claw on the crab when harvesting, as this allows the crab to acquire more sustenance in a shorter period of time, promoting a sustainable harvest.

By following these guidelines and participating in conservation efforts, recreational stone crab fishers can help ensure the future of this delectable crustacean.

Stone Crab Prices and Purchasing Options

Homemade Steamed Stone Crab Claws with Dipping Sauce

Stone crab prices fluctuate based on the season and harvest conditions. Multiple purchasing options, such as local fish markets and online ordering, are available during the stone crab season.

We will examine the range of purchasing options, from the vibrant fish markets of Longboat Key to the ease of online ordering.

Local Fish Markets

Star Fish Co Seafood Market and Restaurant

Local fish markets in Longboat Key, such as Seafood Market Sarasota, Cortez Bait & Seafood, and Star Fish Co Seafood Market, offer a wide selection of fresh stone crabs for purchase during the season. These markets also provide other types of seafood, such as shrimp, fish, and lobster, allowing seafood lovers to create a diverse and delicious feast at home.

Operating hours for these fish markets may vary, so it’s a good idea to consult their websites or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information. By visiting a local fish market, you can be assured that you’re purchasing freshly caught stone crabs to enjoy at home.


In conclusion, the stone crab season in Longboat Key is a culinary adventure that locals and visitors alike eagerly anticipate each year. From understanding the intricacies of the harvesting process to indulging in the delicious stone crab dishes at the numerous restaurants in the area, there’s no shortage of opportunities to savor these succulent crustaceans.

Whether you choose to dine out at one of the many restaurants offering stone crab delicacies, embark on a recreational stone crab fishing adventure, or prepare a mouthwatering stone crab feast at home, the Longboat Key stone crab season is an experience that’s not to be missed. So, get ready to crack open some claws, dip them in flavorful sauces, and enjoy the irresistible taste of stone crabs in Longboat Key!

Frequently Asked Questions

What months are stone crab season in Florida?

Stone crab season in Florida runs from October 15th to May 1st, as per the regulations set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Fishing companies can harvest the crabs with baited traps during this period.

What day does Stone Crab season start in Florida?

Stone crab season in Florida begins on October 15th every year, as officially stated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). It remains open until May 1st.

What is the recommended serving size for stone crab claws?

When consuming stone crab claws, it is recommended to serve three claws per person.

What are some popular restaurants in Longboat Key that offer stone crab dishes?

Popular Longboat Key restaurants offering stone crab dishes include Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, and Walt's Fish Market.

What are the grades of stone crab claws?

They come in several size grades based on weight: medium (up to 3 ounces), large (between 3 and 5 ounces), and jumbo (5 ounces and up). It generally takes about a pound of crab claws to feed one person.

What are the grades of stone crab claws?

They come in several size grades based on weight: medium (up to 3 ounces), large (between 3 and 5 ounces), and jumbo (5 ounces and up). It generally takes about a pound of crab claws to feed one person.

How much do stone crabs cost?

The cost of stone crabs can vary greatly depending on the season, availability, and size of the claws. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $50 per pound for fresh stone crab claws. However, prices can go higher during peak season or when demand is high.

Can both claws be harvested?

Yes. Both claws of a stone crab may be harvested lawfully if they are of legal size. Although it is currently lawful to harvest both of a stone crab's claws, this practice leaves the stone crab with few alternatives to defend itself from predators.

How old does a stone crab live?

Stone crabs can live up to 8-9 years if they manage to avoid predators and other dangers in their environment.

Can I prepare my own claws?

Yes, you can definitely prepare your own stone crab claws! It's a straightforward process that allows you to enjoy these delicacies in the comfort of your own home. You can serve them chilled with hot butter or mustard sauce, or if you prefer them hot, you can steam the claws until heated through and serve with melted butter for dipping. It's an enjoyable culinary experience that's sure to impress your family and friends.

Walter Group Real Estate

As luxury realtors with 20 years of experience serving Longboat Key and its surrounding areas, Steve and Janet of the Walter Group Real Estate specialize in representing buyers and sellers. We are committed to guiding you through the latest luxury listings and helping you find your dream home in paradise.

Start your search with us today, and let us assist you in achieving your dream of owning a luxurious property in one of Florida's most beautiful coastal communities.

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