An Introduction to Florida Scallop Season

    By Terry Tomalin

    Bay scallops, a tiny cousin of the common sea scallops you see seared on restaurant menus, are not for sale so the only way to enjoy this bounty from the sea is to strap on a mask and fins and swim. You will find these little swimmers (yes bay scallops, unlike other shellfish, do swim) in water anywhere two to eight feet deep.

    The most fertile bay for scalloping grounds on Florida's West Coast are found from Homosassa to St. Joe's Bay. Scalloping in Steinhatchee, a quiet little fishing village near the Suwannee River, is legendary. To get started, all you need is a boat (guided trips are available), snorkel gear and a good attitude.

    Scalloping is allowed north of the Pasco-Hernando County line all the way to the West Bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County. The season varies by location, but do not fear, the last few weeks of the harvest are often the best since the scallops have had time to mature.

    For details about seasons, zones and bag limits, go to the Florida Fishing and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website.

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