By: Dawn V. Perez
Picture the scene, you are heading out to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico by either the Keaton Beach Canal, the Steinhatchee River or the Econfina River in Taylor County, watching the seagulls fly, the fish jump in the water and enjoying a fresh salt breeze coming from the Gulf. Either you are traveling in your own boat or your charter captain is taking you. If you have chosen to travel by charter captain, he will be experienced and knows the waters well since he has done this many times before. You throw down your anchor and get ready to start searching the waters, waiting in anticipation while you search for the treasures below. You have found proof that they are down there, now it’s time for everyone, children and adults, to put on their gear for this exciting adventure: snorkel, mask, fins and a mesh bag.
You will search along the grassy waters where the scallops are hidden, sometimes for hours before taking a break. You jump out for a bit, letting your skin dry in the hot sun. The day progresses, sun growing hotter, so you jump back in the cool Gulf waters to search again for scallops. While searching through the sea grasses, you come across many different crustaceans. You see sea trout and seahorses as well as star fish and turtles. Maybe even a dolphin. You are done, you have filled your mesh bag and your bucket to the allowable limit and you are ready to go back and feast on your spoils. But wait, tomorrow is another day, and you will be back to enjoy this treasure hunt once again.
Taylor County is the best known place for bay scalloping in this entire region with the longest undeveloped coastline in the entire state of Florida. Every year, you will see thousands of visitors travel from all over to Taylor County (Steinhatchee, Keaton Beach and Econfina) to capture their share of the riches waiting for them in the shallow pristine waters of this beautiful coastline. You can take your own boat and head out with the family or hire a charter captain with years of experience who will provide you with everything you need for the day. For information on guides, restaurants, accommodations or marinas in the Taylor County area, please visit www.TaylorFlorida.com.
Some information you may need to know about when scalloping: In order to enjoy your spoils, you must clean them before cooking. You can pry open the shell and then remove the meat with a scallop or oyster knife. There are many facilities and marinas that provide cleaning services if you decide you would rather not do it yourself. Scallops can be broiled, fried or stir fried. There are several restaurants in Taylor County that will cook them for you. For a great place to stay, the Taylor County area has many options; resorts, condos, cabins, motels, hotels, campgrounds and rental homes. You can also go to their website for all of this information.
Taylor County has many return visitors year after year that enjoy this activity with their families. All you need to bring is a mesh bag, water shoes, snorkel and mask (and of course your license). But in addition to that, you must not forget sunscreen, water for hydration and a cooler with ice for your scallops. That is all you need for your recipe of fun for the whole family. Scallop Season this year runs from now (Opens June 15) until Labor Day. For more information or a free visitor guide with information about enjoying scalloping and other activities in Taylor County, you can visit www.TaylorFlorida.com.