It’s July, and Natural North Florida’s 2017 recreational bay scallop harvest is off to a roaring start. The harvest began on June 16 for the waters from Suwannee (in Dixie County) to the Fenholloway River (in Taylor County) and ends on September 10. The remainder of Taylor County, all of Levy County, Jefferson and Wakulla counties began on July 1 and ends on September 24. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) changed the dates this year to encourage economic development along our Big Bend Gulf coast.
As of July 4, the best scallop waters are those in Dixie and Taylor Counties, especially the flats off Rocky Creek in Dixie County and near Big Grass Island in Taylor County.
Bay scallops are great to eat (Here’s a great recipe for Scallops Fra Diavolo!) but it’s just as much fun to snorkel and gather them from our abundant and lush grass flats.
You have lots of options with regards to scalloping. One, to take your own boat and launch at one of our coastal ports. Steinhatchee, Keaton Beach, St. Marks, and Horseshoe Beach will get you close to the clean and clear water where scallops thrive. However, launching at Panacea, Suwannee, Cedar Key or Yankeetown will get you within striking distance, but a long run might be necessary. Another option is to hire a professional guide to take you scalloping. Many guides in Steinhatchee, Keaton Beach and St. Marks offer scallop trips. The advantage is that they have the necessary licenses and the knowledge of the scalloping grounds (Scallops can move during the season.) And you don’t have to 1)trailer or 2) wash your boat when you’re back to port! A third option is to rent a boat at one of the many marinas along the Gulf Coast.
For a good look at bay scalloping on Florida’s Big Bend , take a look at this story: