Scallop season only lasts a couple of months, but during that time St. Joseph Bay draws visitors from all over the country seeking to fill their buckets with the succulent morsels. Catching them is easy, cleaning them a little harder and feasting on them simply delicious. The 2017 season for St. Joseph Bay is July 25th through September 10th.
Scalloping is a fun activity the entire family can enjoy. It’s easy for beginners and doesn’t require much more than a saltwater fishing license and a mandatory dive flag. A mask and snorkel, gliding over the grass beds in 2-3 foot deep water is the preferred method. However, many choose to wade out from the shore, look for the myriad of glowing blue eyes along the edge of their shells, and scoop them up.
While scalloping, it may be helpful to carry along a few additional items to make the job easier, such as a mesh bag for collecting scallops, an ice chest for storing freshly caught scallops, a scallop knife and neoprene water shoes. Licenses and supplies are available at local outfitters.
Snorkeling is also a popular activity in St. Joseph Bay. It’s simple, enjoyed by people of all ages and is a great way to gather scallops. All snorkelers should display a diver down flag to alert boaters passing by. Scallop and snorkeling group trips are available at Port St. Joe Marina, and many small charter operators take private trips. A variety of equipment is available for rental and purchase.
Shelling, on the other hand, is 365 days a year in Gulf County and is influenced by the tides, the weather and the seasonal fish. You will surely be amazed at the treasures you’ll find as you comb Gulf County’s unique shorelines. From beautiful driftwoods carved uniquely by nature, to the vast variety of bi-valves, urchins and mollusk shells, you’ll never come back empty handed.
Don't forget to download and print our shell guide for your beach combing adventures.
Follow us on Pinterest for fun tips and tell us what you like to do with your shells. Next time you find that HUGE Florida Horse Conch with it’s beautiful bright colors, take a “Shellfie” for Instagram and don’t forget to tag it with #GCFLNoFilter.
Recreational harvesters on foot are limited to two gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell, or one pint of bay scallop meat, per day. Aboard a vessel, scallopers may possess no more than 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell, or a half-gallon of bay scallop meat, at any time. However, they daily bag limit per person still applies. (e.g If there are two people on a boat there can be no more than four gallons, however, if there are five or more person there can be no more than ten gallons.) Bay scallops may be harvested only by hand or with a landing or dip net and may not be harvested for commercial purposes.
A Florida saltwater fishing license is required to harvest bay scallops. Visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for more tips.