Everybody knows that seafood is best when it’s fresh or in-season. There are specific months and times of year that are best for buying different types of seafood. It’s great to know the season for your favorite types of seafood, but it’s also important to know why being in season matters for that specific type of seafood. Lobster, for example, is caught, stored, and shipped live. More than a few days in these holding tanks and the health of the lobster—and the quality of the meat it produces—may begin to suffer. Salmon, meanwhile, is flash-frozen and can last 6 months or more with its freshness preserved in a vacuum-seal. Fortunately, while there is a peak season, lobster can be caught year-round. In contrast, salmon must be harvested during annual salmon runs in which the fish returns to its spawning ground.

Thus, the critical piece of information for buying lobster is the lag time from harvest to shipping and the quality of the holding tank(s) in which the lobster lives in the meantime. When there is a lot of lobster to catch, companies lower the price—even for high-quality lobsters—so they can sell their catch in a reasonable amount of time. The critical piece of information for buying fresh salmon is the lag time between harvesting, cleaning, freezing, and vacuum-sealing the fish. Get these types of details and more information about buying seafood in-season for different varieties of fish.

In-Season Availability for Different Types of Seafood

Lobster

Lobster is harvested year-round in Maine and Canada, but traditionally the peak season generally runs from late June to late December. In recent years, the start of peak lobster has been delayed but then come on strong during the fall. The holiday season is often the time for finding the best deals on Maine lobster, so think about shellfish as a complement or substitute for turkey and ham. Much of the lobster available in the spring is warm-water lobster.

Learn more about…When is Lobster in Season?

Salmon

Overall, salmon season runs from late April to mid-October. When salmon is in season depends on the sub-species. King salmon runs from late April to late June. Sockeye salmon runs from early June to late July. The peak season for pink salmon is from late July to late August. Keta salmon has a large range and a long harvesting season to match. Depending on the region, keta season goes from late July to mid-October. Coho salmon runs from late July to mid-October. By looking around at different varieties of salmon and keeping a certain amount of freezer space available, it’s relatively easy to stay stocked with wild Alaskan salmon year-round.

Learn more about…When is Salmon in Season?

Crab

Much like salmon, when crab is in-season depends on the variety of crab. The peak season for king crab is usually between October and January. The Dungeness crab season in Alaska starts in July and ramps up throughout the fall until December. The snow crab season starts sometime in April or May (as soon as the ice breaks) and continues until November. The season for Maryland blue crab also runs from April to November. The stone crab season in Florida is opposite and runs from mid-October to mid-May.

Oysters

Oysters are caught year-round, but the peak season occurs from September until April. During the summer months, oyster quality declines due to these marine animals expending a lot of energy on reproduction.

Crawfish

Crawfish are harvested from November to July, but the peak season is from late February until May. The length of the crawfish season in any given year is typically correlated to the winter season. Winters that are warmer and wetter are best for crawfish and mean the harvesting season will last will into the summer months.

Halibut

Halibut is in season from March until November. In fact, for all Alaskan waters managed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and NOAA Fisheries, there is a strict limit to halibut catching season from March 15th through November 14th. There has been a history of overfishing halibut.

Tuna

Both in the Atlantic and the Pacific Northwest, tuna season generally goes from June to November with peak season generally occurring during August and September. Albacore and bluefin tuna typically show up first with yellowfin tuna waiting for slightly warmer water.