When people hear of crab fishing in Georgia’s coastal areas, they often think of blue crab. Yes, blue crab is the most prevalent in Georgia’s inland waters, but stone crab is stumbled upon more often than you would think. Many are often baffled if they know how to identify a stone crab, while others are clueless about what type of crab is sitting in the trap or basket. Many often ask how to handle Georiga stone crabs. 

How do you identify a stone crab

The most straightforward way to identify a stone crab is by determining the size of the claws. The claws of a stone crab are most often massive compared to those of a blue crab in length and width. 

Shell size

A blue crabs shell has the often familiar points on both sides, while a stone crab outer shell is rounded. The measurement of the carapace is generally three inches long and four inches wide. 

Coloration

Florida is where most stone crab claws are harvested, where the sand is white, and the water is typically more clear. As a result, the stone crab in Florida is much different in color than those in Georgia. Our minds are most familiar with the light gray, black-spotted top shell and black claw tips. 

In Georgia, don’t expect to catch stone crab with these colors. The stone crab will also be much darker in coloration because of the murky water and muddy seafloor. Expect the crabs to be completely brown through their entirety except for the underside of the body and claws. 

Claw Size

Stone crabs are equipped with a crusher claw and a pincer claw. The crusher claw is more pronounced than the pincer claw. Males have bigger pincer and crusher claws than females.  They can be nearly as large as an adult’s hand. 

How to handle a stone crab

Stone crabs are extremely strong, so precautions must be taken. First and foremost, don’t assume that the pinch of a claw is its only strength. 

Put on a pair of gloves to help achieve a better grip when handling the crab. With each hand, grip each claw close to where the main body and the claws meet. Take a firm hold, so you don’t drop it. 

One of the first things you will notice is how strong the stone crab is. They can easily pull your hands from an outward position to touching each other central to the body. 

The pinch

Don’t be afraid to handle the crab. Yes, the pinch can inflict severe wounds. When a firm grip is placed on each claw, a pinch is easily avoided. However, understand that the claws are strong enough to crush an oyster shell. Now that’s some strength. 

What part of the crab do you eat

Unlike the blue crab, where it is harvested in whole, the claw of a stone crab is all that is harvested. A stone crab can be released alive and well after a single claw is removed to eat. The larger crusher claw can be kept because it yields more meat. One pincher is left in place as a means of protection.

How big does a claw have to be for harvesting in Georgia

First, make sure you have a valid Georgia saltwater fishing license. Georgia does not have any regulations when it comes to stone crab except for a fishing permit. The state, however, does recommend keeping one claw that measures over 2 ¾ inches long. A claw should be removed from the elbow to the tip by breaking it off cleanly without leaving meat from the body still attached. 

It’s time to taste a stone crab that you never knew about in your trap 

Now that you can identify a stone crab after maybe many years of catching them, it’s time to bring some claws home for dinner. Its mild and sweet flavor is a favorite to many. In a seafood market, the prices can range from twenty dollars per pound up to fifty dollars per pound depending on the claws’ size. It is best to avoid the market and try your luck at catching a passerby when you’re hauling in a solid catch of blue crab.