Scalloping, like any other recreational activity involving water, is a fun experience. Finding scallops is like an underwater Easter egg hunt.
In Florida, bay scallops can be found off the coast starting in June in some areas every year. They’re smaller than sea scallops eaten at restaurants, but they’re just as tasty.
In this article, we’ll go into detail about scalloping in Florida. Read on below to learn more.
Where to Go for Scalloping and Kayaking near Homosassa, Florida
Scallops are widely available in Florida waters, but as mentioned earlier, scallops season runs from June then ends in early fall. In Homosassa scallop season starts July 1st.
To help you focus your efforts when you go scalloping, refer to this schedule:
- Citrus, Hernando, and Levy Counties: July 1 to September 24
- Franklin: Taylor County: July 1 to September 24
- Fenholloway-Suwannee River: June 15 to September 5 (Labor Day)
- Gulf County: August 16 to September 24
- Pasco County: For 10 Days starting the 3rd Friday of July
In some locations, you can get scallops from the beach. However, you’ll be able to get more if you a few miles off shore by boat. If you don’t have one, find someone you know who does, or charter instead.
If it is your first time scalloping and or you are inexperienced then it’s worth hiring a charter. An experienced Guide will provide all the equipment, give you guidance and a wealth of knowledge to efficiently snorkel and find scallops. This provides a great adventure and teaches you how to get out and do it on your own!
What You’ll Need to Kayak, Scalloping and Diving in Florida
The good thing about scalloping is that you don’t need too much equipment. The bad news is that you should get yours ahead of time because stores run out of equipment when scallop season starts. When going scalloping, you’ll need the following things:
- Cooler – You must bring a cooler with ice along with you to keep your caught scallops cold and ready to clean. The cooler or a 5 gallon bucket must be filled with water to keep them alive until you’re ready to head back to shore. Then, add ice to transport them home.
- Dive Flag – Dive flags are necessary because they tell other boaters that a person is present in the location where they are placed. Dive flags are also required by law, so don’t think about passing this up.
- Drawstring Mesh Bag – This is where you’ll place your collected scallops as you go diving.
- Snorkel Set – You’ll need this when you go diving for scallops. It’s made more accessible because flippers are not required.
- Reef Safe Mineral Sunscreen – Since you’ll go in open waters, a reef-safe sunscreen is essential to protect your skin.
Other things can also come in handy, such as swim shoes and gloves. However, these are not mandatory.
How to Find Scallops on the Eco Tour
Scallops tend to dwell in seagrass beds that range from 3’ – 8’ in depth depending on the tides and geographic area. In certain places, you can stand on them and vice versa. While taking your boat scalloping you will most likely anchor nearby other scallopers, so you’ll have no problem looking for the right place. Remember to be safe by keeping plenty of distance and look out for swimmers in the water!
As soon as you see large areas of seagrass, chances are you will find scallops there. Advice: once you see a scallop do not take your eyes of it! Swim straight down to grab it. Many times they may close their shell or try to swim away as soon as you reach out to grab them. Whatever the case, get them in your mesh bag as soon as you get them.
Cleaning Your Scallops
Once you’ve got your scallops home, it’s time to clean them. Again, we remind you that you should have them stored in a cooler with ice so you can open them with ease.
Get a scallop, and hold it so that the darker side is facing up. After that, get a sharp object (preferably a knife) and cut the meat off one side of the shell and dispose the empty half. Once you see the meat, remove the dark guts from around the white muscle using a knife. The trick is to separate the guts without detaching the the white muscle from the shell.
After you get the dark guts off then cut the delicious white muscle off the shell and put them in a bag or bowl with ice.
Rinse off your scallops in water and they will be ready for cooking!
Conclusion about Touring and Kayaking in Florida
Scallops are delicious, but getting the scallops on your own elevates the experience further. While scalloping can be a physically exhausting experience, it’s gratifying because you also get to see the behavior of scallops in their natural habitat. Remember to have fun while you’re out scalloping!
Nature Coast Eco Tours conducts eco-tours in Homosassa Florida near Orlando and Tampa Bay for tourists and locals alike. We’re always eager to present the great outdoors to visitors, and our team of experienced wilderness guides will ensure that you get the best experience. Contact us to book a tour now!