Stone crab season off to a more prolific start than last year

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Stone crab season (WINK News)

Stone crab season is officially underway and on Tuesday, crabbers were allowed to pull in their traps.

Crabbers and restaurant owners say they hoped this year will be different than last, when they pulled up nearly empty traps.

Now, they are letting out a sigh of relief.

“There has been a better outcome in comparison to last,” said Keith Ellis, dockmaster at Kelly’s Fish House Dining Room in Naples.

Last year’s slow season led to being unable to put stone crab on the table for paying customers.

“Last year, one of our boats brought in eight pounds. This year, one of them brought in 165, so there is definitely more bountiful catch,” said Ellis.

But he can’t forget what it was like for his crabbers last year. Ellis starts the process from Gulfwater traps to table.

“With last year, especially seeing everybody struggle as hard as I did, it was heartbreaking, was devastating to my childhood memories and ideas of what I wanted to be when I grow up,” he said.

Ellis and his crew hope conditions in the water, whatever they may be, don’t tarnish the rest of the season as it continues through mid-May.

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