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Scallop season opens

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By Ashley Andresen, Staff Writer

Are the crystal clear Gulf waters and the wonders beneath calling your name?

Break out your mask and fins! Scallop season began July 1 and runs through Sept. 10.

Anyone who has scalloped before knows the technique of snorkeling along picking scallops off the bottom of Florida's coastal bay areas.

This is typically done in 2.5 to 4 feet of water - an excellent activity for the whole family to enjoy. Other techniques involve wading and scooping up scallops with a dip net.

Word is scallops are plentiful in Steinhatchee, Keaton Beach and Horseshoe Beach. Some even travel to Crystal River to scallop.

Local sources also say scallops are scarce again this year in Cedar Key.

"We've seen a bunch of them out there, just north of the river," said Nathan McDougal Sr. who fishes out of Steinhatchee.

"They said they were out there, near Rocky Creek, pretty big ones," said Trudie Clark with Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee of fishermen's reports she's heard.

"My family goes to Keaton Beach. You can get your limit there in an hour," said Jackie Travers with the Cedar Key Marina. "We went out last year and looked around, but there were only shells, there weren't any," she said of last year's scallop season on Cedar Key.

Locals say, "not here, not this year again."

According to Matt Lock of the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, scalloping can only be done within the legal harvesting range, which runs from the Pasco to the Hernando County line and into the gulf.

Cindy Byrd of the Division of Law Enforcement within the Fish & Game Wildlife Commission confirmed that a Florida fishing license is required to scallop for people between the ages of 16 and 65. Licenses can be obtained at fishing marinas and select gas stations. They are valid for one year and temporary licenses can also be obtained for locals and people visiting from out of state.

For more information on fishing rules and regulations visit www.myfwc.com.