Great Scalloping article in Gainesville Sun

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun In this June 28, 2014 file photo, Heather Hamilton, then 11, carries a handful of scallops back to her boat after picking them from the grassy bottoms during the first day of scallop season ioff the coast of Steinhatchee.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

In this June 28, 2014 file photo, Heather Hamilton, then 11, carries a handful of scallops back to her boat after picking them from the grassy bottoms during the first day of scallop season ioff the coast of Steinhatchee.

Here is a very informative article from the Gainesville Sun about 9 must haves for Scallop Season.

Going scalloping? 9 must-haves

I’m “going scalloping” is about to become a familiar refrain for those who are aficionados of the tasty mollusks and love to snorkel in shallow bay waters.

This year’s season runs from June 27 to Sept. 24.

The bay scallop zone is from the Pasco-Hernando County line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County. The best scalloping spots in our area typically include Crystal River, Homosassa, Cedar Key and Steinhatchee.

Here’s what you need to participate in the annual fun event that some refer to as an underwater Easter egg hunt:

1) A salt water fishing license. Fees range from $17 for one year up to lifetime options. Go to http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/saltwater-fishing/

2) A boat. Scalloping is done near shore, but you still need a vessel to get out to the seagrass beds. Buy one, borrow one or rent one, at, for example, http://seahag.com/rental-fleet/

3) Diver down flag. This is not an option; it’s the law.

4) Snorkel/mask and fins. You become one with the giant aquarium this way.

5) Mesh bag. As you swim, you need a way to collect the scallops you find, which remain alive in the open fabric.

6) Dipper net. This is for people with a short reach or who might not want to touch the seagrass.

7) Spoon/knife/quart container. Choose a thin knife (curve the blade a bit) for separating the scallop from one shell; use the spoon to scoop the meat off the other shell; put the meat in the quart container.

8) Ice. Scallops are seafood collected in the sun and heat; keep them cold!

9) Food/beverages and sunscreen. You’ll work up an appetite and a thirst while scalloping — and the sun is merciless.

There are limits to how many scallops a person can harvest, and other rules as well. For the official scoop, go to http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/bay-scallops. You can learn even more at www.flseagrant.org/fisheries/scalloping.
— By Susan Smiley-Height