As of Saturday, June 28 Scallop season officially began, a week earlier than expected in the State of Florida — thanks to Florida Governor Rick Scott.
The original start date was slated for July first. As an avid scalloper myself, this comes as good news. That means that the experts have agreed that opening it earlier than expected is not going to hamper the scallop harvest and I get to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes longer this year.
The beginning of the season the scallops are smaller, but as the summer wears on the scallops get bigger and deeper. While there are many other places to scallop, we go to Port St. Joe and scallop in St. Joe Bay.
The open region includes all Gulf state waters (from shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando County line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.
You might ask, what do you need to harvest scallops? While having a boat provides you with the most access to scallop areas, there are places you can walk to from shore. At the very minimum, you will need a mask or goggles, water shoes, a recreational fishing license (unless you are exempt), something to hold your scallop catch in such as a mesh bag, and something to make sure you don’t go over your limit, which is 2 gallons of whole scallops in the shell, or one pint meat per person.
If you have a boat, the maximum vessel limit is 10 gallons of whole scallops in the shell or ½ gallon of meat. The daily per-person bag limit still applies but, for example, if you have more than five people aboard (each being able to take 2 gallons whole), you still cannot have more than 10 gallons total. Bag limits help ensure the scallop population remains sustainable.
Be sure you have a divers-down flag, it is required when scalloping from a boat to ensure other boaters are aware that there are people in the water.
To learn more about these requirements, visit MyFWC.com/Boating and click on “Boating Regulations” and “Divers-Down Flag.”
One of the many recipes available using Bay Scallops:
4 thick slices Italian bread, toasted
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen bay
scallops, thawed, rinsed and patted dry
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1 pinch cayenne pepper
salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Spread 1/2 tablespoon butter on one side of each piece of toasted Italian bread. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat. When oil begins to smoke, pour scallops into pan. Cook for 30 seconds without stirring.
- Toss scallops in pan and stir in garlic. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir wine and lemon juice into scallops, bring to a boil, and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Stir parsley and cold butter into scallops and remove from heat. When butter melts, stir in salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Spoon scallops over buttered toast and serve immediately.
Links to favorite places in the area: