I know, I know. It’s been SLIM scallop pickings so far off the coasts of our beloved Crystal River and Homosassa grass flats. Opening Day on July 1st ginned up some REAL MOLLUSK PANIC when Facebook reports came back with many empty buckets. Blame was cast on overharvesting in prior years, too much rain in the Spring, and even smarter scallops which have evolved to stay well off-shore! indeed, to many, it seemed like the summers of casually snorkeling off Citrus County over vast aquatic fields of scallops scattered abundantly like acorns might be at an end. But I’ve noticed something in my scallop charters over the past month. The yields are increasing. Where a scalloper would have been lucky to find a handful of the sea clams during the first few days, here we are a month later and people are starting to fill up their nets and coolers. With about 7 weeks remaining in the season (ends Sept. 24), I gotta see this as a positive sign. Back to school also means less boaters on the water and your REAL SHOT at catching your limit of those dollops of Gulf Gold! Less harvesting pressure (especially Mon. Thru Fri) means more bay scallops in your coolers and certainly safer waters due to less traffic.
So take heart Scallop Hunters! They ARE out there, And daily reports have been improving consistently. Here are my Top 5 Slow-Season Tips to put more of those delicious Crystal River and Homosassa scallops in your bucket and on your table!
1.) HIRE A FULL TIME GUIDE: Especially If you’re never scalloped before, this is the surest, safest, and most efficient way to “get on the scallops“. A guide will not only take you to the best areas, they will give you real time tips, provide necessary gear, and license everyone on the boat under their Captain’s License. All you have to worry about bringing is whatever you want to drink and eat. Check with your captain (like me) on the special rules of the boat.
2.) TAKE YOUR TIME GEARING UP: Did you check your pockets for keys, money and other valuables? Ask your captain if he has a dry-Box on board. Does your mask and snorkel fit well? Snorkel should be on the LEFT SIDE of your head. Strap should fit snugly around the crown of the head, never around the neck. Fins should be adjusted to fit somewhat tightly. Hair should be kept out of the mask as much as possible. PRO TIP: Avoid putting sunscreen above your eyes when snorkeling. It’s just going to sweat into your eyes and you’ll be out of commission for at least 30 minutes.
3.) SLOW DOWN IN THE WATER: There is absolutely NO NEED to expend extra energy while participating in this wonderful underwater Easter egg hunt. Take your time, go with the flow, relax and enjoy the immersion into this strange and beautiful ecosystem. Scan from side to side while floating in the “Superman” position. Sometimes those little creatures will pop up right underneath you! A scallop is pretty unmistakable on the sea floor, and they will usually be floating right on top of the grass! PRO TIP: When you spot one, LOOK AROUND. These guys LOVE to hangout together, even in groups of 3 or 4! My clients got their first scallop triple the day, all because they kept their eyes on the search area.
4.) CHECK THE TIDES: I can’t emphasize this enough. Low tide is best for Scalloping and will allow your party to search further out into the Gulf of Mexico. Combine a “half & half” day and scallop first then fish the incoming tide!
5.) DRIFT: Who says you have to stay in one spot! Pull up the anchor occasionally and move to a slightly different area. No sense in sticking around if an area has been picked clean. Discarded scallop shells are a tell-tale sign that you are searching in a popular spot. PRO TIP: Ever-increasing orbits around the boat, increasing your radius with each orbit. This technique works great for covering the most search area!
Hope this helps with your search! Scalloping continues to be Citrus County’s most family-friendly summer tradition and will continue to delight recreational boaters for years to come. If I can help your party in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I have dedicated my career to helping people have a safe and enjoyable experience out on the waters off Crystal River and Homosassa. The Bite is On!
-Captain Bryan Frechette, Owner
Fish Hunter Tours
(352) 697-2874 Shoot me a Text and I'll get right back to you!