Bug season outlook uncertain

By Steve Estes

Commercial fishermen began sinking their lobster traps Wednesday in preparation for the opening of season Monday.

But they have as yet little idea what season will bring, says Bobby Holloway, owner of Fanci Seafood, opening at a new location on Cudjoe Key just in time for season.

“We don’t have any prices yet to give to the fishermen,” he said.

The ending average for last season was around $6 per pound, not the best of years for local fishermen, but far from the worst, said Holloway.

“I’ll find out opening day what the wholesalers are paying and that’s when the fishermen will know,” he said.

He said he also hasn’t been able to get a good read from fishermen what they expect from season this year.

“We had reports during mini-season that some folks couldn’t find anything, some folks found a lot, some had to range further to catch limit, so that doesn’t tell us much,” he said.

Of course, that’s also usual information from mini-season, which more often than not isn’t a good gauge for what the commercial season will bring.

“It’s been a strange year so far. The fishermen are getting bites at times and locations they usually don’t and aren’t getting bites when they think they should,” he said.

Right now it’s a guessing game.

“Once the divers and bully netters begin coming in Monday we’ll get a better feel for what’s coming when the trap guys pull, which they usually do a few days later,” said Holloway.

Fishing is the Keys number two economic engine.

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