Delicious Scallops Ready for Harvest Next Week

Scallops in butter - yum!

I'm "going scalloping" is about to become a familiar refrain for those who are aficionados of the tasty mollusks and love to snorkel in shallow bay waters.

This year's scallop season opens next Saturday and runs from June 27 to Sept. 24.

The bay scallop zone is from the Pasco-Hernando County line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County. The best scalloping spots in our area typically include Crystal River, Homosassa, Cedar Key and Steinhatchee.

scallopsPhoto by Matt Stamey / The Gainesville Sun.

Here's what you need to participate in the annual fun event that some refer to as an underwater Easter egg hunt:

  1. A saltwater fishing license. Fees range from $17 for one year up to lifetime options. Go to: http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/saltwater-fishing/
  2. A boat. Scalloping is done near shore, but you still need a vessel to get out to the seagrass beds. Buy one, borrow one, rent one or share one.
  3. Diver down flag. This is not an option; it's the law.
  4. Snorkel/mask and fins. You become one with the giant aquarium this way.
  5. Mesh bag. As you swim, you need a way to collect the scallops you find, which remain alive in the open fabric.
  6. Dipper net. This is for people with a short reach or who might not want to touch the seagrass.
  7. Spoon/knife/quart container. Choose a thin knife (curve the blade a bit) for separating the scallop from one shell; use the spoon to scoop the meat off the other shell; put the meat in the quart container.
  8. Ice. Scallops are seafood collected in the sun and heat; keep them cold!
  9. Food/beverages and sunscreen. You'll work up an appetite and a thirst while scalloping — and the sun is merciless.

Daily recreational bag limits: 2 gallons whole or 1 pint meat per harvester per day; no more than 10 gallons whole, or 1/2 gallon meat per vessel anytime. Learn more at: www.flseagrant.org/fisheries/scalloping.


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