July is here and that means one thing: the start of scallop season on Florida’s Adventure Coast. Scalloping is a fun, exciting time for family and friends.
Photo: Florida SeaGrant
We all enjoy the beautiful crystal clear Gulf waters and snorkeling for some tasty bay scallops. We scallop dive in four to seven feet of water, depending on the tide; low tide makes it easy work. All you will need is a mask, snorkel, fins and a catch bag.
Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
Finding scallops is also easy to do; find a grassy bottom the right depth for you and jump over board. Last year was a great season and this year will be another great year. If you are scalloping on your own, make sure to fly the divers down flag at the highest point on your boat. The limit for scallops is two gallons per person in shell or ten gallons per boat, whichever ever is less.
Fishing is good right now. We are catching sea trout in 10 to 13 feet depth around spotty bottom areas, using a 1/4 ounce jig head and a white little Jon or gulp shrimp. Bounce the jig across the bottom, twitching the rod tip up. Red fish are holding on points and islands. Use live pinfish or green backs on a 2/0 circle hook to lure them.
Mangrove snapper are holding on big rocks in 10 to 12 foot depth. Mangrove sizes range from 12 to 16 inches and are very good to eat. To catch them, use a light - 8 to 10 pound - leader at least 6 feet long with a number 1 light wire bait hook. Place a chum block out to get the fish active. Also, cut up either frozen threadfins or green backs into small chunks about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Slowly chum a few pieces at a time. Then place your bait right into the chum slick, leaving your bail open so it flows naturally with the chum. When the line rips off your reel, flip over the bail and set the hook!