Gazing at the smooth Gulf of Mexico, Amanda and her sisters couldn’t wait to head out. They heard from friends how fun scalloping was but had never done it themselves. Can you swim around in shallow water and just grab them? Do they really have bright blue eyes?
The girls each clutched a towel and bag with their snorkel gear. Suited up and covered in sunblock, they giggled as they stepped aboard the boat with Mom and Dad. School starts soon but it’s the farthest thing from Amanda’s thoughts as she and her family cruise out from Bayport.
Exclusive to a harvest zone area and only possible from July 1 through September 24, scalloping is a treasured annual Florida’s Adventure Coast treat.
Joe, Amanda’s Dad, commented on the water shallowness and clarity during the boat ride. Wearing polarized sunglasses, he could easily see the lush, waving seagrass as they passed over. Their boat captain explained that seagrass beds are the habitat for bay scallops to hide. He stopped the boat and urged all to look carefully around in the seagrass for the well-camouflaged shellfish.
“I see one!” shouted Amanda.
“Good eye,” said their charter captain, posting the diver down flag. “If you see one, there are sure to be more!”
From then on, all were busy snatching the free-swimming mollusks as they zig-zagged through the water.
Snorkelers eagerly await summertime’s “green light” to catch the famously tasty Gulf gifts of bay scallops. Mask, snorkel, fins, a mesh bag and cooler with ice are tools of the trade.
If scalloping independent of a charter service, be sure all scallopers 16 years or older hold a fishing license. Ensure you follow diver down flag rules as well.
Florida’s Adventure Coast marks the southern border of Florida’s Bay Scallop Harvest Zone except for a ten day period, comprising the season for Pasco County waters. The coastal map, illustrating boat ramps, marinas, channel and other markers, covers the area from Aripeka north to Chassahowitzka. Be sure to bring your catch ashore within the designated zone.
Consider making it easy on yourself like Amanda and her family did; leave the driving to someone else. Just show up with your cooler and snorkel gear; no fishing license is required if using a professional charter service. Choose among several Florida’s Adventure Coast charter services and let the captain guide you to the best areas.
For a delicious reward, bring your shucked scallops on ice to one of the local You Catch; We Cook restaurants where your dinner will be perfectly prepared. Just brought in from the Gulf of Mexico by you, what could be fresher?