Scalloping in Florida is a great way to cool off during those hot summer days (season is open from July 1st - September 10th).
Florida scalloping is fun for the whole family and can be done whether you have a boat or not.
If you have a boat all you need is a mask, snorkel, fins, dive flag and a Florida saltwater fishing license for everyone over 16 years old.
I would also recommend getting some anti-fog spray for your mask (you can get this at any dive shop for under $5.00).
If you don't have a boat there are many guides that offer trips to go scalloping in Florida.
To go out with a guide you can expect to pay in the range of $225.00 - $300.00 for a full day on the water and this usually will include the equipment needed (depending on the guide you choose to go with) and all of the Florida saltwater fishing licenses needed plus assistance cleaning your days catch.
If you have ever went scalloping in Florida, you know that cleaning scallops can be a tedious, time consuming chore.
Don't forget to tip your guide, while tips are not required your guide will greatly appreciate it (tips range from 15% - 20%).
Which ever way you decide to go, make sure to bring plenty of sun protection, if this is forgotten you can expect to be very sore the next day with a nice sunburn.
If you hired a guide you won't need to be worried about finding where to scallop but when you are on your own this can sometimes be a tough task.
Depending on where you are scalloping in Florida, start your search over grass bottom in 4' - 10' of water.
Try to get some local reports before you go and a little local knowledge at the boat ramp or at the local tackle shop.
Another good way to find spots to scallop is to look for a bunch of boats in one area, this can many times take the guesswork out of trying to find them.
Once you get to the area you want to try, it is a good idea to start your search up current of your boat.
Sometimes the current can be very strong so if you get tired and you are up current it will make it a lot easier to get back by swimming with the current or just floating letting the current take you back towards your boat.
When snorkeling for these tasty creatures you want to look for a clam shape like the shell that is on the "Shell" gas station sign but instead of it being yellow, you can expect the scallops to be a light almost white color on one side and a dark grayish or brown color on the other side.
What will stand out the most when you spot a scallop lying in the grass or on sandy bottom is two rows of fluorescent blue eyes, these are easiest to see when the sun is out, on cloudy, overcast days you will have to pay extra attention to spot them.
Once you have one in your sight just dive down and grab it. They won't bite but they can pinch you a little sometimes and the edges of the shell can be sharp so be careful when handling them.
The scallop might try to flee as you dive down to grab it but they won't go very far.
Scallops swim by opening and closing their shell pushing water out allowing them to swim backwards, it's entertaining to watch.
A handy accessory to have is a mesh dive bag, this will allow you to get a few dozen scallops before returning to the boat.
If you have no bag your hands will fill up fast and you will need to stop by the boat often to offload and this will make for a lot of extra work.
This July, whether you are on vacation or just want to cool off and spend a fun day on the water with family or friends don't miss out on scalloping in Florida.
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