Today is my birthday which each year is celebrated locally with the opening of scallop season. : ) Luckily, the weather forecast looks good for people to get out in the bay and play. If you’re new to scalloping, here are a few guidelines to get you going.
First of all, you’ll need a current Florida fishing license. If you don’t have one you can pick one up at Scallop Cove BP here on the Cape. Stop by the bait and tackle shop and they’ll fix you right up. You’ll also want a mesh bag to put your bounty in and a good scallop knife to shuck ’em afterwards. If you’re not sure how to clean scallops, here’s a link to a great step-by-step lesson with photos.
Most seasons you’ll typically find the greatest concentrations of scallops in the southern part of the bay; around Black’s Island is usually pretty good. The best way to hunt for them is to snorkel over grass beds. They’re easiest to spot on a bright sunny day with very little surface wind.
This early in the season you’re going to find a lot of really small ones. Please, resist the temptation to go for quantity vs. quality. The little ones aren’t worth shucking and they need to stay in the bay to mature. The best time to go scalloping is really late August or early September when the majority have grown to decent size.
There is a daily limit of 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person during the open season. In addition, no more than 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or one-half gallon of bay scallop meat may be possessed aboard any vessel at any time. The Marine Patrol is pretty active this time of year and the fines are hefty.
If you do head out, happy hunting and be sure to slather on the sunscreen.