EXTENSION CONNECTION: Bay scallop season beckons

Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 03:26 PM.

In Florida, we have some of the best fishing in the world all year long.

Red snapper season, which just ended, is a highly anticipated time, but more than fish interest anglers. It is time for recreational scallop season in the Gulf, and though we must travel east to go scalloping, it is a beneficial experience.

There is still plenty of time to take advantage of scalloping season, but the last day for recreational harvesting is Sept. 24. Harvesting areas are in state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the Pasco-Hernando county line.

Bay scallops are bottom-dwellers that live in shallow waters, near the shore along Florida’s Gulf Coast. These bivalves — typically found in 4-8 feet of water in seagrass beds — once inhabited most of the Florida Gulf Coast, but now can only be found in isolated distinct populations. This is due to the decline in their once historic habitat areas.

You can recognize bay scallops by their electric blue eyes and ability to swim, propelling themselves backward by opening and closing their shells quickly.

One piece of equipment required for your scalloping adventure is a salt-water fishing license for Florida residents between ages 16 and 65, and all non-residents over 16.

Other necessities are a swim mask, snorkel, small mesh bag, divers-down flag (required by law), and a boat or kayak.

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