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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: scallop

Week Four, Steinhatchee Scallop Season, 2012

by on Jul.22, 2012, under Steinhatchee

Week Four of the 2012 bay scallop harvest got off to a slow start with lots of thunderstorms and rain.  Luckily, the worst days were Monday through Thursday, and by Friday (July 20), skies were clearing and chances of storms had diminished.  That’s not to say that folks weren’t watching the weather closely, as “your 30-percent chance of rain” can always sneak up in the form of a violent storm, with lots of wind, rain, lightning and even hail!  And with the bulk of the scallops being taken in the Pepperfish Keys area, riding home the ten or so miles can be arduous is it’s storming.

There's great scalloping just north of the Pepperfish Keys channel, south of Steinhatchee

It seems that the continuing runoff from Tropical Storm Debby still has the waters to the north of the Steinhatchee River muddied up or stained, making scalloping difficult.  I’d bet that there are plenty of scallops in the deeper waters near Nine Mile Bank, but they may be hard to see, and deep.  At Pepperfish, it’s waist-deep on low tide, making the exercise easy and fun.  In general, the scallops are still coming to the cleaning table at the Sea Hag Marina by the buckets-full, and the meat (adductor muscles) is big this year, with 2 gallon limits producing just over a pound of clean scallops.

Another factor that can make the ride south difficult is the huge influx of floating sea grass.  This is caused by the natural shedding of old growth and accelerated by the persistent westerly breezes along the Big Bend.  There’s no danger in running through the grass, but be sure to check you water pressure gauge frequently to be sure your cooling water intakes are not clogged.  Another method is to watch the “pee hole” of your outboard.  If the stream is weak, your motor’s likely clogging up.  Many outboard motors now come with an alarm system that sounds upon overheating, and then slow the engine speed down automatically.  If you do clog up, DO NOT STOP YOUR MOTOR.  All that will do is seize a piston to the cylinder wall (not a good thing!).  Shift gears from forward to reverse, and keep the revolutions (RPMs) up.  Higher revs mean that you’re pumping more cool water into your engine’s water jacket.  Usually a minute or so will clear the intakes and you’ll be on your way.

I can’t stress enough the need for any boater to have some sort of assistance “insurance” in the form of either Sea Tow or Tow Boat US membership.  Getting a tow home can be expensive.  At Carrabelle, Steinhatchee and Horseshoe Beach, I recommend Sea Tow.  At Yankeetown (Levy and Citrus County) Capt. Matt Fleming of Tow Boat US is always on call.

Sea Tow/Horseshoe Beach now has a presence at the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee.

Capt. Matt Fleming of Tow Boat/Yankeetown is waiting to assist!

For a few hints on successful scalloping, click HERE!

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Week Three, Steinhatchee Scallop Report, July 15, 2012

by on Jul.16, 2012, under Steinhatchee

The main event here is still the recreational bay scallop harvest, with the best reports coming from the Pepperfish Keys area, south of the river.  Late reports from the Keaton Beach area are that the scallops are also plentiful near the bird rack off Big Grass Island, a favorite place for snorkelers leaving that port.  In either case, folks need to prepare for a long run from Steinhatchee and should also plan to take advantage of the moderate mid-day low tides this coming weekend.  It’s much easier to find scallops in 3 feet rather than 6 or 7!

The scallop "fleet" near Pepperfish Keys, 7/14/12

With vast numbers of boats on the water and concentrated on the “scallop grounds”, boat captains should pay special attention to matters of safety.  ALWAYS keep a lookout posted on your boat while running near anchored boats and snorkelers and ALWAYS keep a lookout posted while your crew is in the water.  You should never leave your boat unattended and your lookout can easily warn your divers of impending danger from less-careful boaters.  And remember the rules and keep well away from other boats–300 feet is a good number to remember!

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Week Three Scalloping Report from Crystal RIver, 7/16/12

by on Jul.15, 2012, under Ozello to Crystal River

From Michael Mancke,  Director of Marketing & Sales at The Plantation Inn & Captain Paul Cross, Manger of the Adventure Center:

Scalloping season is in full swing at the Plantation Inn on Crystal River.  All our charter captains as well as our guest are finding the limits of scallops close to Crystal River still in 4 to 6 feet of water.  The water is clear and the pickings are good.  Gomez Rocks is still the place to go.  Chef can hardly keep with the “cook your catch” he is offering in the West 82⁰ Bar & Grill, he and his team served over 70 dishes last weekend.

As for the rod & reel fishing, no complaints there either, the gag’s are cooperating well in shallow rocks, live pinfish are the bait of choice.  And the redfish are gathering on the grass flats along with the sea trout…  Live shrimp is always good for bait, but don’t underestimate a Gulp or DOA shrimp under a cork.  A few snook are being reported in the Shallows around Dixie bay, spoons and jigs are a great search bait and a live pinfish is hard of them the resist.

If you can’t get here yourself you can watch some the action, such as the boats coming and going from the Plantation by watching the new weather cam by going online to: http://www2.tbo.com/weather/tbo-webcams-plantation

We also had Virginia Johnson of Bay News 9 out last week to do her “On The Town” segment that aired last Friday: http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/on-the-town/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2012/7/12/scalloping_a_shellfi.html

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2012 Scalloping Season, Opening Day Report from Steinhatchee, Florida

by on Jul.01, 2012, under Steinhatchee

The 2012 recreational season for scallops kicked off in full steam at Steinhatchee.  Early reports from the FWC were a bit scary, but I’d learned that the “official” scallop survey was made during a spell of bad weather almost a month ago, and were not considered very accurate.  The FWC surveys the same areas each year and it’s my opinion that the scallops move from place to place, and don’t necessarily show up in the test plots each year, as the FWC seems to expect!  In any case, the scallops were plentiful at Steinhatchee on opening day (July 1) and the hunt should be good throughout the season, which has been permanently extended until September 25.

The high tides fell during the mid-day hours and snorkelers had to go deep, sometimes to 8 or 10 feet, to catch their limits.  Many boats waited until mid-afternoon to head out and take advantage of lower water.  Not only was this a high tide, but it was one of the highest of the summer.  Lower tides make it easy to search the bottom.  There were reports of cloudy water, due to the influence of last week’s tropical storm, Debby, but areas of good tidal flow were more clear.  Everyone seemed to head north of the river to the area off the bird rack at Big Grass Island or to the cuts off Dallus Creek.  I heard no reports from the southern shoreline, but did hear rumors that the water near the Pepperfish Keys was good, and that scallops had been seen there.

For a complete look at the process of scalloping, take a look at:

The Ship's Store at the Sea Hag Marina is ready for business--great souvenirs!

Crowds gather at the Sea Hag, getting ready to scallop!

Steinhatchee's new boat ramps make your scalloping outing easier.

All shapes and sizes of boats can take advantage of recreational scalloping.

Anna Patterson, Chiefland Watermelon Queen, with a fresh-caught bag of scallops.

Icing your scallop catch makes them easy to open.

No guts, just pure white meat!

Kim will gladly clean your scallops at the Sea Hag while you relax and have a cold beverage.

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From Capt. Bob Zales II, President of The National Association of Charterboat Operators:

Sometimes in our personal lives we hit it lucky, and people truly love the gifts we give them and continue to enjoy them for years.

I think the two license-free weekends of saltwater fishing next month in Florida have that potential. Last month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced in Panama City at the Cabinet meeting with Gov. Rick Scott that nobody needs a saltwater fishing license the weekends of June 4-5 and 18-19.

Timing, of course, is everything. The first weekend coincides with the opening of red snapper season in the Gulf. The second weekend includes Father’s Day – a time when a lot of men get to do things they enjoy, like fishing.

But here is where the gift keeps giving. On the Father’s Day weekend, for example, fathers will plan to spend time with their kids. Fishing intrigues lots of youngsters – girls and boys – because of the fun of being on the water or fishing from the shore or a pier. Casting the bait, seeing the line and pole swoop down when a fish grabs the bait and runs with it, and actually landing a wiggling fish are exciting experiences for youngsters. And the learning and play time with Dad build memories that last a lifetime.

We’re betting the experience will generate more than memories. The FWC hopes that those who experience fishing for the first time those two weekends – or for the first time in a long time – keep at it, because sportsmen and women care about our wildlife and natural resources. Many will become some of our state’s best conservationists.

So dust off that old pole or buy a starter kit and head to Florida’s seashores, bays and saltwater flats to reconnect with nature and a fun sport. Go with family or a friend. Have a good time. If you’re a novice, don’t worry, because anglers love to share their expertise, and we explain all the saltwater fishing regulations online at MyFWC.com/Fishing. This website is an important resource, because all species’ size and catch limits still apply during the license-free fishing weekends.

The reason the FWC worked with the governor and Cabinet to offer these license-free weekends and expanded bay scallop season, which starts a week early on June 25 and ends two weeks later than normal on Sept. 25, is to give tourists ample incentives to head for the state known as the “Fishing Capital of the World.” And once visitors and residents alike experience or refresh their memories about the beauty and bounty of Florida’s saltwater resources, we hope they will repeat the experience, often.

The license-free weekends and the extended bay scallop season are good for our visitors, our residents and our economy. Just imagine how three extra weeks of scalloping will boost business in the communities that dot the Gulf. It’s a low-cost activity for families that enjoy wading out and snorkeling to find these delicious little blue-eyed bivalves.

Florida’s saltwater fisheries are world-class, thanks to great resources, responsible management and the public’s caring stewardship.

As a youngster in Miami, I fished Biscayne Bay and still enjoy fishing with my family.

Try it. You just might love it.

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