Under Florida’s sunny skies, explore the timeless tradition of Scallop Season Florida – a delightful blend of snorkeling and treasure hunting. Wade through the shallows, uncovering delicate fan-shaped mollusks in the sandy depths. These treasures become the star of delectable meals, capping off an unforgettable adventure by the coast.
Scallop Season Florida – Adventure Is Ending
Levy, Citrus, Hernando Counties: July 1-Sept 24, 2023
Hernando Pasco County: July 1-August 6, 2023
Gulf County: Aug 16-Sept 24, 2023
Franklin to NW Taylor County: July 1-Sept 24, 2023
St Joseph Bay and Gulf County: Aug 16-Sept 24, 2023
Scallop season in Florida kicks off each year on July 1, drawing families, locals, and tourists to the coast with snorkeling gear in hand. With a week already passed, there’s plenty of time left to enjoy this Floridian tradition.
When IT Ends
As the Florida 2023 scalloping season ends on Sept 24, there were over two months to plan your perfect trip. Keep in mind, as the season finale draws nearer, the excitement surges. Wise planners secure their scalloping trips well ahead to guarantee they don’t miss out on the fun.
Scallop season in Florida spans from July to September, which can affect your experience when you go. Early in the season, you’ll find smaller but plentiful scallop shells. Later on, they grow larger and meatier. Whether you choose early or late, these three months offer distinct advantages for a tremendous scalloping experience.
If you’re scalloping with a tour, you’ll likely need a swimsuit and a towel. They usually provide everything else, like a license. But it’s always good to check with them first.
You’ll need a mask to see underwater, a snorkel to breathe while looking, and fins to swim comfortably. Bring a mesh bag to collect scallops safely, as they can pinch.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, consider a life jacket or floatation device to save energy and stay safe.
Regulations and Guidelines
Before you start scalloping, know the rules. You can collect 2 gallons of whole bay scallops or 1 pint of scallop meat daily. Don’t keep more than 10 gallons of whole scallops or half a gallon of scallop meat on your boat at once.
Also Read: What food is Florida known for?
Follow the rules to share resources and protect Florida’s scallops. It keeps scallop populations healthy. Breaking these limits means hefty fines, so scallop responsibly.
What are scallops, and what types can you find in Tampa Bay?
Scallops are like clams and oysters, but they can actually swim! In Tampa Bay, you’ll find bay scallops. They’re smaller than the sea scallops you get at restaurants but super yummy. Bay scallops are also softer to eat than sea scallops.
Where to Scallop in Tampa Bay?
Florida scallop season opens in summer from Hernando Pasco County Line to the Panhandle. Top spots include Crystal River, Homosassa, and Pasco County. For fewer crowds, try weekdays or later in the season for more enormous scallops.
Is Scalloping Kid-Friendly?
Yes, it’s great for kids! Elementary-aged and older kids will enjoy it. Ensure they wear life jackets, especially if they’re not strong swimmers, as currents vary.
Do I need a permit or fishing license for scalloping?
If you plan to take your boat for fishing, you’ll need to get a saltwater Florida fishing license, and you can register for one here. However, if you opt for a guided tour like the one we’re going on, they handle the saltwater fishing license for you. Going on tours or charters is the easy, hassle-free choice!
What should I bring for scalloping?
All you need for scalloping is a positive attitude, snorkel gear (mask, fins), a mesh bag for the scallops, and a dive flag to stay safe in the water. If you’re on a tour, the captain might provide some of these, but bringing your own water and snacks is a good idea!
What’s the method for capturing a scallop?
Finding bay scallops is like an underwater treasure hunt. Look for them in the damage seagrass habitat, about 3-6 feet deep. Keep an eye out for their distinctive blue, bead-like eyes.
Scalloping is like an underwater version of searching for eggs, but with a twist – scallops can swim! When you spot one, move fast to catch it, as they can open and close their shells swiftly.
Be cautious, though, because their quick movements can give you a little pinch but won’t harm you. You can catch scallops by hand or with a small dip net.
Are there any restrictions on the number of bay scallops I can gather?
Absolutely! This rule is in place to make sure scallops stay plentiful for the future.
In the Tampa Bay Area, which covers Pasco and Citrus counties, each person can collect up to 2 gallons of whole bay scallops per day. And just to keep it fair, one boat can’t have more than 10 gallons of whole bay scallops at once.
What should I do after I’ve caught the scallops?
Just bring your scallops to Plantation on Crystal River. They’ve got a family at the marina who’ll clean and shuck them for a fee. Once that’s done, take your scallops to West 82° Bar & Grill, where the chef will cook them up for you! It’s a $14.95 meal, and you get to choose your sauce and two sides. By the way, their lemon butter sauce is amazing – we can’t stop thinking about it!
The ideal season for scalloping in Florida
The best time for scalloping in Florida is during scalloping season. But weekday mornings are your best bet for a quieter experience with fewer boats and fewer crowds. Mornings are also safer, as they help you avoid afternoon thunderstorms common in summer.
If you’re after bigger scallops, plan your trip toward the end of the scalloping season. It’s less crowded when kids are back in school, and the scallops have had time to grow larger by then.
Other recreational activities in Crystal River
Have a blast experiencing the beauty of Florida’s Nature Coast, even if you’re not used to country life! On our quick Crystal River staycation, we took a trip to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park to check out the wildlife and step back in time to old Florida tourism. It’s a lovely state park that we really think you should visit at least once. And don’t miss saying hi to Lu the hippo!
Nearby, there’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Consider adding it to your trip if you haven’t been with the kids. It’s where you can find real mermaids, fantastic kayaking, Florida’s only natural water park, and lots more fun!
Citrus and Hernando counties are perfect for scalloping because of the mix of fresh and saltwater. Our guide said it’s because of the rivers and springs that flow into this Gulf area. These rivers also help keep red tide away.
Where there are natural springs, you’ll find fantastic spots for kayaking, tubing, hiking, and anything else you love to do outdoors.