Naturally, for July along our Nature Coast, specifically the Citrus County area, it’s all about the opening of scallop season which starts July !st and runs through September 25th. If you’ve never done it there’s no better way to have good fun, a nice way to cool off, beat the summer heat and something the whole family can enjoy. And oh yes, the best part, preparing and eating em! Which, I’ll share with ya in a minute. If you have done it, you certainly can agree.
But just in case you weren’t aware, there are only 3 major good areas left in the whole state of Florida for harvesting these bi-valve mollusks. Port St. Joe area up in the panhandle. Steinhatchee, Keaton beach area in the Big Bend, and our Citrus County Scallop grounds, the Crystal River, Homosassa area.
There was a time when most of Florida enjoyed Scallop harvesting. I believe one of the main reasons it doesn’t now is because of the coastal growth, development and population in other areas of the state which unfortunately brings with it, less habitat and sometimes lesser water quality. Scallops must have good water quality and grass beds to populate, grow, and thrive, and these few areas still have these features that are vital to these tasty morsels.
Here are some guidelines to insure a happy trip out for the “white gold of the gulf”. First off, it can be quite busy at the ramp, on the river, and out at the picking’ grounds. Please, please remember to be respectful, and cautious when navigating in and around these waters. And NO B.W.I’s!! Keep it for back at the motel. We don’t need any airlifts, or water ambulances.
Also just to throw in, the preliminary reports are very good. So it should make for adequate collections this season. The most beneficial thing a couple or group can do to enjoy a trip and be most successful is to hire a captain or guide that has been doing this for years, period. Would you rather have a mechanic or doctor do work or a procedure for, or on you that is just starting out? Or one that is a veteran and reputable in the field? And trust me; it’s better and cheaper in the long run to hire a guide, step on the boat in the morning. Have a fun, safe and productive trip. And then step off when all is said and done. A charter that gets you out there quick for more scalloping time, good bimini shade, good tunes or stereo to enjoy, and knows where to go and not to go to be most productive. And most importantly, one that is U.S.C.G. properly equipped, licensed and insured. And last but not least. A charter service that already has what I call an umbrella saltwater license to make sure you’re covered. You sure don’t want to show up at the dock ready to go and find out you need a saltwater recreational fishing license. Or, have to get one ahead of time to only use it once or twice a year.
Recreational harvesters are limited to 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell, or 1 pint of scallop meat per person, per day. In addition, no more than 10 gallons of whole scallops or ½ gallon of meats may be possessed aboard any vessel at any time.
Submitted By: Capt. Rick Burns
Reel Burns Charters