© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2001
Stone crab season just opened, giving us inshore dive sites and welcome relief from heavy seas offshore.
Poor visibility, in the 3- to 10-foot range, is the norm. So take a compass, a small light and a crow bar, and crawl the bottom like the crabs.
Natural limestone with holes is the best terrain for crabs followed by concrete block, steel I-beams and bridge pilings. Look for current areas. They dig dens where the sand, clay or muck meet the structure. The crabs are not fast, so they can be easily subdued with a quick, assertive grab. Wear gloves that provide protection and dexterity. Pin the small claw, and apply steady outward pressure to the largest one until it pops off. Return the crab to the same hole if possible.
Lightweight beanies are popular additions to the protection of a wet suit. Small mesh bags with easy gates are best to store the claws. Keep them in saltwater and cook them in boiling water for about five minutes, until they turn red. Don't refrigerate or freeze uncooked claws or they'll stick to the shells.
-- Chad Carney teaches scuba & spearfishing and runs charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 423-7775 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.