The second week of Florida’s 2015 recreational bay scallop season proved much more productive than the first. There were no steady sea breezes keeping the water dirty and the travel to the scallop grounds rough. And the mid-day low tides made it easier for kids and beginner-swimmers to search the grass for the tasty bivalves.
Steinhatchee, in southern Taylor County, was especially busy. Unlike many Gulf ports, Steinhatchee has made an industry of scallop cleaning. For a modest, per-pound, fee the scallop cleaners will shuck and bag your catch. This weekend, at the Sea Hag Marina, the cleaners worked well into the wee morning hours.
The most productive area for scalloping near Steinhatchee is near the Bird Rack, about 6 miles northwest of the river mouth. If you’re the first boat out that day, look for lush, flowing grass. That’s the bottom that scallops favor. If you’re headed out later, just look for the “fleet”! The flats to the south of Steinhatchee have been covered with dark water. However, if the water clears, expect good catches to come from the flats north of the Pepperfish Keys. The Pepperfish Keys are also easily reached from Horseshoe Beach, in Dixie County. Scallopers departing Keaton Beach, about 18 miles north of Steinhatchee on CR361, also typically run south to the flats near the Bird Rack. But reports from the Sea Hag are that good catches are coming from the north, particularly the flats off Dekle Beach.
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