How To:

How To Catch Bay Scallops

Author: Patrick Meek

It's like an underwater Easter Egg hunt!!!

Hunting for bay scallops is something for the whole family to enjoy. It's literally like an underwater Easter Egg hunt. All you have to do is swim out and find them anywhere from 3' to 6' deep of water. 

The first thing you need to know is when bay scallop season is open. If you go to the FWC website, there it will show the dates scallop season is open in each boundary.

As with any other fishing, a saltwater fishing license is required. The limit for Bay Scallops is noted below as per FWC:

1) 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell, or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person.

2) Maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell, or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

Scallop Fishing Gear: For scallops, you won't need a rod, reel, or hooks. What you will need is a snorkel, swim mask, and a mesh bag to collect your scallops. Swim fins are optional, but not necessary; however, they do come in very handy if you are in water over your head and you will conserve a lot more energy.

How to find Bay Scallops: What you want to look for is a sandy bottom versus a muddy bottom with sea grass nearby. In some areas you may be able to just walk out from shore to find them, but the key to finding them is by covering as much ground as possible. A boat, kayak, or paddle board is the best options, but be sure to use a divers flag and stay within 300' of your vessel. Just slowly swim on the surface of the water looking down to locate them. Do not stay in one area, like I said before; cover as much ground as you can. The scallops shell may be darker on top and lighter on bottom, but it doesn't take long to train your eyes to know what to look for after you have found a few.

When you find Bay Scallops: After you have located your bay scallop on the sea bed, it's best to pick them up from behind because they can pinch you. They will close their shells as a defense mechanism. Once you've picked up your scallop, just put it in your mesh bag and keep swimming searching for more. 

After you find your Bay Scallops: When you have finished searching, it's best to put your scallops on ice. Once the scallops have been put on ice, the shell will slightly open making the shucking / cleaning process easier. On a side note, if you plan on going out fishing later, the scallops guts make for a great chum.

Some years are better than others in regards to size and numbers, but catching your limit should be no problem at all and this is a type of "fishing" the WHOLE family can enjoy.

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