Facts About Scalloping

Pine island fishing

Outdoor activities like hunting and fishing are a popular pastime among many Americans. In fact, close to 40 million Americans go hunting and fishing each year. This also includes scalloping.

Often found in seagrass beds underwater along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, scallops are edible shellfish that come in different sizes, depending on whether they originate from the bay or the sea. Shells of bay scallops grow out to 4 inches in length, while larger Atlantic sea scallops often grow to 9 inches in length. Scalloping usually happens during the summer between July and September when the harvest is plentiful.

In Florida, popular spots to go fishing and scalloping during the sea scallop season include Crystal River, Steinhatchee, Keaton, and Homosassa. Usually, the equipment required for scalloping is snorkeling gear, water shoes, buckets, and mesh bags to collect the scallops. It is also advisable to carry equipment to protect the boat’s engine, extra boat fuel, and flares and whistles for safety.

There are often limits or other regulations regarding scallop collection during the season. For instance, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission requires the daily minimum bagging limit to be two gallons of whole-shell bay scallops or, if out of the shell, one pint of bay scallop meat per person per day. At the maximum, boaters must carry one-half gallon of bay scallop meat per person, or 10 gallons of whole bay scallops if they come in the shell.

Often, scalloping season occurs around the same time as redfishing along the Atlantic Coast. Young redfish start out in the estuaries before migrating to be with their adult counterparts in nearshore waters. Redfish can grow up to 36 inches in length and longer, although they gain more girth as they mature. And, like sea scallops, redfish can tolerate a variety of temperatures and water salinities. While most scallops are found in seagrass, most redfish can be found in tidal areas of rivers.

Whether you go fishing or scalloping, certain fishing charters are necessary and regulations must be followed. A fishing charter involves booking a boat that you can use for the day to catch fish. Some boat owners also offer other services on a fishing charter, such as lunch, afternoon cruises, or dolphin watching. However, for those who are interested just in fishing or scalloping, most charters supply rods and reels, fishing licenses, bait and tackle, coolers with ice to maintain your catch, and more, depending on the charter.

While there seems to be many steps involved in beach and charter fishing, scalloping still remains a popular activity along the Atlantic Coast during the warm weather months, or longer if the state allows it. Some see it as a form of relaxation. According to a report by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation, around 38 percent of Americans interested in going fishing view it as another way to relieve stress.

What are your experiences with scalloping, beach fishing or charter fishing? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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