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Adventure Coast scallops in the shell


Scalloping on the West Coast of Florida

By: Heather Lalley

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Looking for a truly hands-on foodie experience on the West Coast of Florida?

Opt for the ultimate sea-to-table adventure: harvesting your own scallops on Florida's Adventure Coast. The shallow coastline and pristine waters of this natural paradise nurture the sea grasses that small, sweet bay scallops adore.

Before You Go

For convenience, there are many licensed guides and fishing charters in the area that will take you harvesting (and in most cases, provide the necessary supplies). Should you decide to head out on your own, you’ll need:

  • A Florida saltwater fishing license
  • Boat, canoe or kayak
  • Snorkel and mask
  • Diver down (scuba) flag
  • Mesh bag
  • Water shoes
  • Ice-filled cooler (to store the scallops)

Just mind the season: As a rule, harvesting is permitted from late June through late September annually, but always ask before you begin.

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Tips For Harvesting

Good news: These delicious bivalves are fairly easy to catch, even for beginners. They’re bottom-dwellers that prefer shallow waters of depths around 1 to 3 meters. And they stand out thanks to their glowing, electric-blue eyes visible along the edge of their shells.

When you’re ready, remember that scallops must be hand-harvested and they can swim. The trick is to act fast. A boat, canoe or kayak will help you reach your prize, but some harvesters have success simply wading into the sea grass. It’s possible to collect up to the legal limit — about 7.5 liters of whole scallops per person (approximately 1 pint of meat) — in a couple of hours. If you’re planning a do-it-yourself excursion for a group, keep in mind that no more than 38 liters of whole scallops (roughly 4 pints of meat) is allowed on any vessel at any time.

Catch and Cook

Now that you’ve caught your scallops, it’s time to turn them into a meal. Be sure to dock your boat within the scalloping harvest zone though, comprised of the state waters north of the Hernando County line. Lucky for you, several area restaurants offer “Catch ‘n’ Cook” meals. Bring your fresh, cleaned scallops to The Cove restaurant in Hernando Beach and the chef will sauté them in butter. Or head to BeckyJack’s Food Shack in Weeki Wachee or R Beach restaurant in Hernando Beach for “You Hook It, We’ll Cook It” specials.

Bring your fresh, cleaned, locally caught scallops to select Hernando County restaurants and the chef will cook your catch.

Bring your fresh, cleaned, locally caught scallops to select Hernando County restaurants and the chef will cook your catch.
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