GAINESVILLE, Florida – Scallop gatherers, whether called hunters or anglers, are gearing up for the Florida season to open. For the Nature Coast area, including Citrus County’s Crystal River and Kings Bay, the season this year opens July 1 and runs through September 24. Scalloping is like a late summer Easter egg hunt.
It’s not too late to book your scallop trip. Pete’s Pier is a great place to find an expert charter. The charter captain will deliver you safely to the best scalloping areas and can provide snorkel equipment. Prices vary.
A new Crystal River option for lodging is available this year with the introduction of the Anglers Inn Floating Suites. These luxurious 59-foot, wide body house boats offer superb amenities and are moored on the water at Pete’s Pier.
Bay scallops are typically found on sandy or gravel bottoms in 3- to 8-foot-deep grassy flats, usually just a couple miles off shore. The best time is early in the day and when the tide is just coming in or going out. These tide conditions make it easier to see the scallops and swimming is easier. Snorkel gear helps with the gathering process. With 200 eyes, scallops are not blind to your presence and their swimming antics are quite comical.
No fishing license is required when scalloping with a charter. A Florida fishing license and dive flag are required when scalloping without a charter. The daily bag limit is two pounds, 20-30 whole scallops, per person.
Scallops are an excellent sea-to-table dining fare with many local restaurants taking the day’s catch and preparing with sides. Scallops have Omega-3 fatty acids making them an exceptional health food, good for cardiac well-being.