The Indian River Lagoon (IRL), an estuary on the Florida east coast, offers boaters many ways to enjoy their day on the water. With 156 miles of waterway, the IRL is home to, shrimp, blue and stone crabs. Easy to bait and catch these delicacies of the sea are waiting for you on the IRL.
Often thought to be the catch of professional trappers, recreational trapping of shrimp and crab is allowed in Florida. This offers you the opportunity to use your boating time to work on the catch of the day. There are regulations that limit your catch but they are liberal enough to allow you to catch enough of these scrumptious delicacies to feed your crew.
Boaters on the IRL are allowed to catch up to five gallons of head-on shrimp, per vessel not per person, with no size limit. Recreational trappers can use a net to catch shrimp that have an opening that is no larger 96 inches around its perimeter, a cast net of no more than 14 feet in length, or with a push net. When using shrimp traps, you are allowed to up to four traps that can be no larger than three feet long, two feet wide, and one foot high. You can find further regulations for recreational shrimp trapping here.
The season for trapping shrimp is closed for April and May in Duval, Putnam, St. Johns, Flagler, and Clay counties. You can check for closings in your area by contacting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Trapping Blue Crab
Like shrimp, you can trap blue crab on the IRL and there is no limit on their size. The daily limit is 10 gallons of the whole crab, per day. Catching egg-bearing crabs are prohibited. Egg sacs are under the crab so look for them when harvesting your catch and throw them back. It is legal to trap female blue crabs unless they have eggs.
Blue crabs can be caught with dip or landing nets, drop nets, or traps. You are allowed up to five traps per person. The maximum size for blue crab traps is two by two by two feet and further specifications for traps can be found here, as well as blue crabs season information, which is based on an odd/even schedule.
Trapping Stone Crab
Stone crabs are one of the most favored of crustaceans and recreational trappers are allowed to catch up to a gallon of crabs per person, or two gallons per vessel. The size limit is based on the length of the claw, which must be at least two and three-quarters of an inch in length for your catch to be legal.
Stone crab can be trapped or caught with dip or landing nets, and spears, hooks, or other devices that can injure the crab’s body is not legal when harvesting stone crabs. Traps maximum size for traps is two by two by two feet and further information about stone crab traps can be found here.
The season for stone crabs is highly regulated and they can only be harvested between October 15 and May 15 statewide in Florida. However, traps may be put in to place up to ten days prior to the opening of the season but cannot be tended until the season opens.
As a note of advice, traps for blue and stone crabs must not be pulled from the water with mechanical devices, as is done by commercial trappers. If you are found with a winch on your boat, you could be fined and made to purchase a commercial license. Traps for recreational crab trappers must be pulled manually, during daylight hours, and cannot be placed in marked channels, the Intracoastal Waterway or any other navigable waterways.
Time to get out on the Water
You do not need to own a boat to enjoy the waters of the IRL. When you join the 321 Boat club in Melbourne you will have access to boats that range from 19 to 25 feet. We have ski boats, pontoon boats, fishing boats and Jet Skis in our fleet of rentals so you can choose a vessel for skiing, fishing, or trying your hand at recreational shrimp and crab trapping on the beautiful waters of the Indian River Lagoon.