Get the drawn butter ready, stone crab season is here

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John Banyas, owner of the bayfront fish house at 4528 119th St. W. in Cortez, as well as Swordfish Grill restaurant and Cortez Bait and Seafood market on Cortez Road, celebrates the first delivery of stone crab claws to his docks. Banyas said: “It’s not what we wanted, but we got some,” adding the first pull will stock the fish market and restaurant for a day or two. Banyas has traps set in the Gulf between John’s Pass in Pinellas County and Venice. The price for medium-sized claws at the Cortez Market is expected to be about $17 per pound. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
The first pan of the season for the Star Fish Company Market,12306 46th Ave. W., Cortez, is loaded with medium crab claws harvested on Oct. 15, the first day of the stone crab season. Fishers set their traps several days before the 15th, in hopes of a record catch this year after Hurricane Irma battered Florida fisheries. Islander Photo: Sandy Ambrogi
Bernardo Sosa, of the Star Fish Company, 12306 46th Ave., W., Cortez, heaves a pan of first-catch stone crabs Oct. 15 for the fish market display on the inaugural day of the 2017 stone crab season. Sosa said the medium crab claws were brought in by local fisherman, with larger fleet catches arriving within 24 hours.

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