Scallops are a species of saltwater clam that live in sea grass beds and often in sandy areas close to grass beds. They are filter feeders, and an adult scallop can filter the algae and organic matter from over 15 quarts of water in an hour. That’s pumping a lot of water for such a small creature!
Florida bay scallops are smaller than your typical scallop, and live in 4 to 8 feet of water. They can be difficult to spot depending on the light, water clarity, and how much algae has grown on their upper shell. Along the rims of their shells are rows of tiny blue eyes that detect movement and they can escape a threat by opening and closing their two shells and squirting out water to move along in any direction. They aren’t very fast and they don’t go very far, but it’s enough to thwart danger.
From July 1st to September 30, Florida bay scallops line the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico, hidden like Easter eggs in the tall grass. Every year, thousands of people hit the water with their snorkels and mesh bags in tow to collect their daily limit of the tasty little mollusks. At the end of the day, your catch will make a tasty dinner – perfect for fueling you for round two of scalloping the next day.
A fun and rewarding activity for all ages, it’s easy to see why families wait to spend their vacation days for a week on the water during scallop season. Unlike fishing, don’t expect to spend the day on the boat waiting for the catch to come to you. Scalloping is a completely hands-on, underwater experience. If you know how to swim, love the water and enjoy eating freshly caught seafood, then scalloping may need to go on your summer bucket list.
Homosassa and Crystal River is world famous throughout the entire U.S for our scalloping. We have a very unique ecosystem due to our three Spring-fed Rivers that pump an abundance of fresh water daily out to meet the gulf. Those rivers are the Homosassa River, Crystal River, and Chassahowitzka River. As a result of that, we have the most exquisite mangrove islands and pristine saltwater Flats unlike any other place in the world.
If you have a boat, you can certainly go out and scallop on your own if you're familiar with the laws for harvesting scallops. But if not, we recommend taking a scallop tour with a reputable charter operator like Homosassa-Crystal River Scalloping Charters.
Captain Matt Locklear is our most known and main guide. He is a full-time fourth generation fishing and scalloping pro guide in the Homosassa and Crystal River areas.