PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Scallop season is well underway in Pasco County, drawing in locals and tourists alike. It's bringing a big boost for businesses in the area, too!
On Sunday, we watched boat after boat come in after a day spent out on the water hunting for scallops.
“So we headed a couple miles out Hernando, little shallow of the water, we didn’t do so hot, and then we went out more of the deepwater like six-foot, we did very well,” said Paige Theede, a local who scallop hunts each year.
It's a fun way to get out and enjoy all that Florida has to offer, with a nice reward at the end of the day.
“There’s something different once you go out and harvest them yourself and cook them yourself and really enjoy from catching them to cooking them all in one day,” said Adam Thomas, Tourism Director for Florida's Sports Coast.
Florida's Sports Coast has a list of guides and recommendations for those wanting to go hunting. And they recommend you do get out and experience Pasco County's scallop season. You can find that list of guides and recommendations by clicking here.
“You’re looking down at the bed grass, you see these nice little blue little eyes looking up at you and there’s your pick,” said Thomas.
It's a nice boost for the local economy, and for businesses, too.
“We had probably 30 dive flags here a day and a half ago, they just went right out the door. And scallop kits, nets, gloves, all that kind of stuff, people are even coming in and picking up shrimp, too,” said Melinda Maghan, an employee at The Bait Depot.
The Bait Depot is located just across the street from the Nick's Park boat ramp, and they're seeing locals and out-of-staters already this season!
“I think it’s a lot more busy this year than it was last year, I think a lot of it has to do also with red tide, people are already up here anyways,” said Bill Kolokithas, Owner of The Bait Depot.
When it comes to scallop hunting when red tide is a concern, FWC recommends avoiding areas with a medium to high concentration of the algae.
Red tide changes with the wind, so it's always good to double-check daily samples before you go hunting. You can check FWC's daily sample map by clicking here.
FWC's limitations for scallop hunting in Pasco County are:
- Per person: 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat
- Per vessel: Maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat (1/2 gallon = 4 pints)