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2024 Scallop Season in Florida

All About Scalloping in Florida 2024

Scallop season in Florida is a highly anticipated time of year, drawing both locals and visitors to the state’s Gulf Coast for a unique and enjoyable outdoor activity. The season typically runs from mid-June to late September, although the exact dates can vary slightly each year and by location.

Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know:

When does Scallop Season start in Florida?

Scallop season in Florida is a summer affair, typically lasting from early July to late September. The exact dates can vary slightly depending on the specific location. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission sets the dates in different zones based upon sustainability studies, previous year’s harvest and other data.

scalloping crystal river
Scalloping in shallow coastal waters of Florida is a seasonal sport.

Where to Go Scalloping?

The best spots for scalloping are in shallow grass flats along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Here are some popular locations:

Scallop Season in Crystal River

This city is nicknamed the “Scalloping Capital of the World” for a reason. Its clear waters and abundant seagrass beds make it a prime spot. Scallop season in Crystal River in 2024 is July 1st through September 24th. You can find scalloping charters here. More things to do in Crystal River. Top places to stay in Crystal River. We recommend the Plantation Inn for scallop charters and great hotel.

Scallop Season in Homosassa

Another popular option south of Crystal River, offering similar experiences and plenty of charter boats. Scallop season in Homosassa is July 1st through September 24th. Hotels in Homosassa Florida can arrange a room and scallop charters.

Scallop Season Cedar Key

This charming island town boasts great scalloping grounds and a laid-back atmosphere. Scallop season in Cedar Key is July 1st through September 24th. Cedar Key places to stay.

Scallop Season in Florida at Steinhatchee

 This well-known village on Florida’s West Coast is a haven for scalloping and fishing year-round. During scallop season the town fills with guests from all over Florida. Scalloping season in Steinhatchee Florida is July 15th to Labor Day (Sept. 2nd). Places to stay in Steinhatchee Florida.

Scallop Season in Port St. Joe

A Florida panhandle location that is a popular destination for scalloping. Scallop season in Port St. Joe is shorter,  – Aug 16th to September 24th. Port St. Joe places to stay.

Other scalloping locations in Florida:

  • Franklin County (including Alligator Point and Carabelle): Known for its pristine waters and diverse marine life. The Florida scallop season in 2024 in this area is July 1st through September 24th.
  • Levy County (including Horseshoe Beach and Keaton Beach): Offers a mix of public and private scalloping areas. The 2024 Florida scallop season in this area is June 15th through Labor Day (Sept. 2nd).
  • Pasco County Scallop Season: July 10 through August 18 (shorter season)
  • Dixie County Scallop Deason: June 15 – Labor Day (slightly longer season)
  • All other Scallop Zones (Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor, Levy, Gulf through NW Taylor County): July 1 – September 24 (most common timeframe)
Note: To make certain you are in the proper location and the 2024 scallop season in Florida is open in your area check the map below:
2024 scallop season in Florida map 2024 FWC
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission furnished Map of 2024 Scallop Season in Florida

What You Need to Know Before You Go:

  • License: A Florida saltwater fishing license is required for everyone 16 years and older who harvests scallops, unless they are on a chartered trip with a licensed captain. Many people choose the charter option for the best areas to find scallops and avoid licensing.
  • Gear: You’ll need a mask, fins, snorkel, mesh bag, and possibly a scallop knife (regulations vary). Kayaks or boats are commonly used for navigating the shallow waters.
  • Limits: There are daily bag limits on the number of scallops you can harvest per person and per vessel. Generally, the limits are 1 gallon to 2 gallons per person per day. However, check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website for the latest regulations. Scallop season in Florida can change year to year.
  • Responsible Scalloping: Be mindful of the ecosystem. Only harvest healthy scallops and avoid disturbing the seagrass beds.

How To Catch Scallops in Florida

2024 scallop season in Florida- bucket of bay scallops
This is your goal! A bucket of bay scallops.

During scallop season, enthusiasts head out to the shallow seagrass beds, ideal habitats for bay scallops. These areas are generally between 4 to 10 feet deep, making it possible for snorkelers to easily spot and collect the scallops.

things you need when flying

Participants use a mask, snorkel, and fins to glide through the water, collecting scallops by hand or with a small net. Scalloping is often described as an underwater treasure hunt, combining the excitement of searching for these prized shellfish with the beauty of Florida’s coastal waters.

Scalloping is a fun and rewarding activity followed by the culinary experience of enjoying your catch. Many restaurants, hotels and seafood sellers with clean and cook your catch.

In addition to being a recreational pursuit, scallop season in Florida provides an opportunity to experience the natural beauty and wildlife of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

It’s common to encounter various marine life, including fish, crabs, and seagrass beds teeming with biodiversity. After a day of scalloping, many participants enjoy cooking and savoring their fresh catch, often preparing them simply with butter, garlic, and herbs.

scalloping in Florida
Scalloping in the shallow waters of Crystal River.

What Type of Scallops are Harvested in Florida

There’s only one type of scallop commercially harvested in Florida: the bay scallop (Argopecten irradians). These tasty bivalves are smaller than their deep-sea scallop cousins, typically reaching a maximum shell height of around 3 inches (75 millimeters) in Florida.

Here’s a closer look at the bay scallop:

  • Habitat: They dwell in shallow nearshore waters along Florida’s Gulf Coast, nestled in seagrass beds.
  • Identification: They have a smooth, rounded shell with a mottled brown or grayish color on top and a white underside. You can easily spot their bright blue eyes along the mantle edge, which they use to detect predators.
  • Importance: Bay scallops play a vital role in the marine ecosystem, filtering water and providing food for other creatures. They’re also a commercially valuable shellfish, though Florida’s focus is on recreational harvesting during scallop season in Florida.
    scallop season in Florida 2024 - bay scallops
    Bay scallops in Florida are much smaller than their sea scallop partners offshore. That doesn’t mean they lack flavor when cooked multiple ways.

While other scallop species might exist in Florida’s waters, the bay scallop is the primary target for recreational scallopers. Their abundance in shallow waters and their relative ease to spot make them ideal for a fun and rewarding summer activity.

Beyond the Scallops

A scalloping trip can be a full day of fun in the sun. Combine it with exploring nearby beaches, visiting charming coastal towns, or enjoying other water activities like kayaking or paddleboarding.

Remember:

  • Check the latest FWC regulations about Scallop season in Florida before you go.
  • Be aware of weather conditions and water safety.
  • Practice responsible scalloping to ensure the sustainability of this precious resource.

With a little planning and preparation, you can have a fantastic time exploring Florida’s underwater world and enjoying the bounty of scallop season!

Overall, scallop season in Florida is a beloved tradition that combines adventure, nature, and culinary delight, making it a special time for families, friends, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Scalloping in Florida is a Family Affair – Here is Why

Scalloping in Crystal river
Scallop season in Florida is summertime fun when kids are out of school and they can have some fun with the whole family. You never know what they will find!

Scalloping in Florida is family fun for several reasons:

  • Underwater Adventure: Scalloping feels like a treasure hunt beneath the sea. Equipped with a mask, snorkel, and fins, snorkelers glide through the clear, shallow waters, scanning the seagrass beds for the distinctive fan-shaped shells of bay scallops. The excitement of spotting and collecting scallops adds an element of adventure.
  • Beautiful Natural Settings: The waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast are typically warm, clear, and teeming with marine life. Participants often encounter a variety of fish, crabs, and other sea creatures, making the experience not just about scalloping but also about enjoying the vibrant underwater ecosystem.
  • Family-Friendly Activity: Scalloping is suitable for all ages, making it a great family activity. Children and adults alike can participate, making it a wonderful way for families to bond and spend quality time together in nature.
  • Combining Fun and Fitness: Snorkeling and swimming while scalloping are great forms of exercise. The activity combines physical effort with the thrill of the hunt, making it both fun and beneficial for health.
  • Fresh, Delicious Seafood: The reward at the end of a successful day of scalloping is a delicious meal. Freshly harvested scallops are a culinary delight, and many participants enjoy preparing and cooking their catch with friends and family, enhancing the sense of accomplishment and enjoyment.
  • Exploring Coastal Areas: Scalloping provides an opportunity to explore Florida’s beautiful coastal regions. The areas where scalloping is popular, such as Steinhatchee, Crystal River, and Homosassa, are known for their scenic beauty and charm, offering additional recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, and sightseeing.
  • Social Experience: Scalloping trips often involve groups of friends or family, making it a social event. Sharing the experience of hunting for scallops, enjoying the day on the water, and cooking the catch together fosters camaraderie and creates lasting memories.

Overall, scalloping in Florida is a unique and enjoyable activity that combines adventure, nature, social interaction, and culinary pleasure, making it a popular summertime tradition for many.

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