Last Updated on June 16, 2023 by Eric Bonneman
Crystal River, Florida, is widely regarded as a prime spot for fishing enthusiasts, nature lovers, and recreational boaters. However, this picturesque location is also a haven for another activity that uniquely combines aquatic fun with a hint of treasure hunting: scalloping. This pastime has turned into a cherished summer tradition for many Florida natives and visitors alike, offering the thrill of the hunt and the reward of a fresh, tasty bounty. Here’s everything you need to know for a successful scalloping adventure in Crystal River.
Scalloping involves snorkeling in relatively shallow waters to harvest scallops, a type of saltwater clam known for its sweet, tender meat. Scallop season generally runs from July through September, though precise dates can vary each year based on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) regulations. Scalloping is only permitted in certain areas, and Crystal River is one of the top hotspots.
Planning Your Trip
When to Visit
The best time to visit Crystal River for scalloping is during scallop season, which typically starts around early July and lasts until late September. Keep in mind that weekends and holidays can be crowded, so consider planning your trip for a weekday for a more peaceful experience.
What to Bring
Ensure you’re prepared for a day of scalloping by bringing the following:
- Scallop gear: This includes a mask, snorkel, and fins. Some people also prefer to use a small net and a scallop bag for collecting their catch.
- A cooler: You’ll need somewhere to store your scallops once you’ve collected them. A cooler filled with ice will keep them fresh until you can clean and cook them.
- Sunscreen and protective clothing: Scalloping typically involves several hours in the sun. Wear a hat, UV-protective clothing, and plenty of waterproof sunscreen to protect yourself.
- Refreshments: Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and snacks. Scalloping can be hard work!
Rules and Regulations
Florida law allows each person to collect up to 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell, or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per day during the open season. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these rules and regulations to avoid fines and to protect the scallop population for future generations. Check the latest guidelines from the FWC before your trip.
Where to Look
Scallops are often found in seagrass beds in water between 4 to 10 feet deep. Look for their characteristic blue eyes peering out from their shells or for their shells’ ridged edges poking up from the grass.
Scallops have a unique method of propelling themselves through the water by rapidly opening and closing their shells. Don’t be surprised if a scallop you’re trying to catch suddenly jets away! Approach scallops slowly and grab them firmly to avoid losing them.
Cleaning and Cooking Scallops
Cleaning scallops can be a bit of a chore, but it’s all part of the fun. You’ll need a knife to open the shell and cut away the scallop’s innards, leaving only the white muscle. Many local establishments will clean your scallops for a small fee if you prefer.
Once cleaned, scallops can be cooked in a variety of ways. Grilling, searing, and baking are all popular options. Remember, fresh scallops cook quickly, so be sure not to overcook them.
Get Out There
There’s no better way to embrace Florida’s summertime than scalloping in Crystal River. A mixture of snorkeling and treasure hunting, it’s a delightful family-friendly experience. And what better team to embark on this journey with than Florida Fishing Adventures? They’ll guide you through crystal-clear, shallow waters to help you spot and harvest your share of these blue-eyed treasures. Remember, spotting one scallop usually means more are nearby. So when the summer rolls around, dive into the refreshing pursuit of scalloping with Florida Fishing Adventures; book your trip today!