Anyone can do it.
The ‘Big Bend’ area of north Florida is one of the few places in the world where you can catch your own scallops. All ages, from kids to grandparents can collect the legal limit – about 2 gallons of whole scallops per person – in a couple of hours. It helps to have a boat, but the scallops like to hang out in 3-4 foot deep water, so a canoe or kayak also works. There are even places where you can wade out into the sea grass beds and then snorkel to find them – Hagen’s cove, 13 miles north of Steinhatchee is one such spot.
Keaton Beach in the Big Bend area offer some of the best scalloping in Florida, and the economy of these small towns depends on ecotourists who come for the fishing and scalloping. You can stay in a cottage or a villa and rent a boat or go on a guided scalloping or fishing trip.
Besides a recreational saltwater fishing license, you don’t need much in the way of equipment to catch scallops. The basics include a dive flag, sunscreen, a bathing suit, a mask and snorkel, along with a mesh bag to store the scallops while you are swimming. A cooler with ice is also useful. Scallops are not particularly difficult to find. Just swim, canoe, or motor slowly across the sea grass, in areas where the water is three or four feet deep and look for scallops among the grasses. When you see some, put up your dive flag and start collecting.
You can pick up the scallops up by hand (if you are quick) or scoop them up in a dip net.
The season for Bay scallops runs from July 1 to September 10. Scallops can only be harvested in State waters in the Gulf of Mexico between Aripeka – north of Tarpon Springs, to Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle. Bay scallops can only be harvested by hand or with a dip net. They may not be harvested for commercial purposes.
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