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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Crab crop improving, mullet still scarce

Commercial fishermen working out of Cortez are having a bad year with mullet, or lack of them, but stone crabs are a bit more plentiful now.

The word from Karen Bell of A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez is "the mullet are somewhere else," though normally that fishery is in full swing this time of year.

The unofficial "season" usually starts in late fall or early winter, but this year it hasn't gotten started at all. The mullet that are being netted are fat and filled with roe, but they're scarce, said Bell. Mullet roe is the Gulf's answer to caviar and is a major delicacy in the Orient.

Fishermen are fervently hoping for a late run of mullet, not unprecedented but not their preferred way of doing business.

The stone crab catch is improving, she said, for the cold weather apparently "brought them out." The bad news is that the increased harvest is not enough to bring lower prices on restaurant menus.