Scallop Season Guide

How to scallop in Homosassa Springs, Florida. Season opens the Saturday before July 1st every year.

scallop limit in 5 gallon bucket

Scallop Season is Here! You’ve heard all about it, but exactly what is scalloping and what do you need to do it?

There’s nothing hard core needed to enjoy a day scalloping. Your checklist includes:

  1. Friends or family you’d like to spend a day with
  2. A boat (rent a boat from us)
  3. Saltwater fishing license
  4. Mask and snorkel (maybe fins if you’d like)
  5. Five gallon bucket
  6. The ability to swim to the bottom of 4-6 foot deep water.
  7. That’s It!

If you want to get fancy, bring a mesh bag so you don’t have to keep swimming to the boat to drop off your scallops. Leave the wetsuit and air tanks at home, you don’t want to look stupid. Your back will be exposed to the sun most of the day so make sure your sunscreen is the sport version which won’t come off when you’re swimming and you may want to wear a swim shirt to keep the rays from burning you. To keep your mask from fogging up you can buy fancy anti fog, rub toothpaste in it, or just plain ol’ spit onto the inside of it then rinse it off with saltwater.

Next step, after you have your scalloping supplies

Load your boat with your friends, drinks, snacks, sunscreen, and towels. Follow everyone else out into the Gulf about 2 miles – there will be several hundred boats all anchored up in the same area in 4-8 feet of water over grassy bottom. Throw out your anchor, raise your dive flag and dive in.  The scallops look just like a shell, if you have good eyes you’ll see their eyes looking up at you, they look like a bunch of shiny blue gemstones around the mouth of the shell.  Swim down to the bottom and pick them up, they don’t bite, pinch or do anything scary so don’t worry about it.  You might get them to swim, they do this by opening and closing their shell together and move about a foot each time they do so.  If they’re out of water when they do this they spit at you.  If you’re in a good spot you’ll find a whole bunch of them all clumped together and your biggest problem is trying to pick them all up and hold onto them before you run out of breath.  If it’s just a so-so spot you’ll have to swim around a bit to find them.  A boat limit is (2) five gallon buckets (10 gallons for those who can multiply) of whole scallops – still in their shells.

You’ve collected all your scallops. Now what?

Once you’ve had your fill of the Gulf, most folks decide to head to the Springs and cool off in the 72-degree water. You might clean your own scallops here or drop them off at one of the docks where the local experts will clean them for you (while you’re cooling off). The best way to clean a scallop is with either a spoon or dull and sturdy knife. Open the shell up (it’s like a clam) and scrape off the meat and tissue from both halves of the shell. You want to keep the small oblong shaped white meat and throw away the darker, slimy membrane. Some folks use a shop vac to separate the two but that seems pretty messy to us. At the end of the day, 10 gallons of shelled scallops will yield about a quart of meat which you can then take home and use to prepare your favorite scallop recipe.

Wrapping up our Homosassa Springs Scalloping Guide

You’re now a scalloper. Even if you do things wrong–if there is such a thing–you just spent a day on the water with friends and family, got some exercise, a sun tan, and cooled off in the crystal-clear waters of the Homosassa Springs. You can stop off at Publix (a local grocery store) on the way home and get a quart of scallops for $20 and nobody at home will be any the wiser.

Here’s a nice informative article explaining the lifecycle of a scallop and a video taken in our waters of a swimming scallop. Conservation-minded folks need not worry. You’ll see that scallops have a 1 year life cycle. Every one of them born this year will be gone next year one way or the other. In the video you can see the blue eyes of the scallop and the type of grassy bottom they prefer.

Thanks for reading the Homosassa Springs Marina Scalloping Guide!