Didn't it feel like a mild winter? The crabs in the Delaware and Chesapeake bays think so, too. And as a result, they are scurrying out from their muddy beds earlier than usual — for your dining pleasure.

Fresh crab season has begun in earnest at Delaware's seafood retailers and restaurants, even though it's only mid-April. If you thought you'd have to wait until May or June to get quality soft-shells or crab cakes, you're in luck.

"We have gotten, in the last two weeks, gotten started getting crabs. Last year it was June before we started getting Delaware crabs," said Elva Burroghs, who with her husband Isaac owns Sambo's Tavern, the Leipsic seafood spot. "They've been beautiful, absolutely beautiful. They're full, and they're sweet. Hard shells, from the Delaware Bay, already! And they're good."

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