Whether you are 6 or 66, scalloping is fun and relaxing. Yes it takes a bit of physical exertion, but nothing too strenuous. Our first time scalloping was in the summer of 2013. We vacationed for a few days in Steinhatchee Florida with some close friends who showed us the finer points of scalloping. We had some serious fun! Kinda like a treasure hunt, just tastier. If you would like to try scalloping, let me explain when, where and how to scallop.
When is the best time to go scalloping
Scalloping is a summer time activity usually from around July 4th to late September. It can get really busy on holiday weekends, so be prepared for potentially heavy boat traffic on the scalloping grounds as well as around the marinas and boat ramps. Scallop season dates and regulations for Florida are available at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Where is the best place to go scalloping
We scallop off the coast of Florida, usually from Saint Marks down to Steinhatchee, but Florida scalloping is legal from Mexico Beach Canal down through Hernado county. No matter which area you go to, the scallops are usually plentiful in shallower water, between 3-6 feet, so snorkeling for them is quite easy at those depths. They are usually located where there is a grassy bottom. It is usually fairly easy to find a good area to scallop in once you get on the water. Ask around the marina for the general area folks have been finding them in and head out looking for the flotilla. Once you get there, ease into the fray, throw out the anchor, put up your dive flag and grab some scallops.
How to scallop
It’s easy, just put on your snorkel gear and float around with your face in the water and look down for the scallops. If the sun is shining through the water at the right angle, the scallops have electric blue eyes that make them easy to see. If the sun is not good and bright, they are camouflaged pretty well, but once you see one or two, you get the hang of what to look for. Just snorkel along looking down and when you spot one, take a good breath, dive down, grab the scallop and stick it in the bag. We use a mesh laundry bag with a drawstring, but there are lots of options out there.
Here is a list of some items you will need to go scalloping:
- Dive Mask
- Snorkel – I recommend a dry snorkel
- Fins (no required, but makes it easier)
- Scallop Bag or Mesh Drawstring Bag
- Snorkel Set (Includes all 4 items above, the bag is a little large for scalloping, but will work)
- Snorkeling fin socks – not required, but good protection for your waterlogged feet
- Fishing license (as required, check your local regulations)
- Dive Flag (as required, check your local regulations)
- make sure you have a way to properly display the flag on the boat
- Dive Buoy (as required, check your local regulations)
- Ice both for snacks and to keep your scallops cool
- Cooler(s) – We have found it better to keep the water drained out of the cooler you are keeping the scallops in. They tend to stay open a little better which makes them easier to clean.
- Water for hydration
- Bucket or other way to measure the volume of your catch