How to Catch Sea Scallops

Written by erin clyburn
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How to Catch Sea Scallops
You can dive for scallops off the Gulf Coast of the southern United States. (calico scallops image by Pix by Marti from

Scallops are harvested mainly in China and dredged in large fisheries off the eastern coast of the United States. Scalloping by hand, though, is rising in popularity, as it is more ecologically friendly and an enjoyable hobby akin to fishing. Scalloping is slightly easier than fishing, though, because it is done by net or hand. The Gulf of Mexico and the panhandle of Florida are the main grounds for catching scallops.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Saltwater fishing license
  • Snorkel, mask and fins
  • Mesh diving bag
  • Boat
  • Net (optional)

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  1. 1

    Obtain a saltwater fishing license if scalloping in the state of Florida.

  2. 2

    Rent a boat, or take your boat out if you own one.

  3. 3

    Drive the boat into an area that is designated for scalloping. Head for an area with shallow to moderately deep water with lots of bladed sea grass. Scallops congregate in these areas.

  4. 4

    Put on your mask, fins and snorkel when you spot scallops. Put up your dive flag (as required by law) and enter the water.

  5. 5

    Scoop up the scallop with your hand or a net. Put the scallop in your mesh diving bag.

  6. 6

    Continue the process until you have as many scallops as you want. Return to the boat. Put the scallops on ice immediately.

Tips and warnings

  • Scallop season in Florida typically runs from July 1 to September 10.
  • Scalloping is limited to certain geographic areas in Florida. Only five counties allow scalloping. The area in which you can scallop is from the Pasco/Hernando County line in the south to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County in the north.
  • Recreational scallop harvesters can harvest only 2 gallons of bay scallops in the shell or 1 pint of scallop meat. In addition, each boat is allowed to hold only 10 gallons of whole scallops or 12 gallons of scallop meat.

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