Scalloping is a common summer activity in coastal areas like Crystal River. It is so popular that both locals and tourists plan for months and book ahead of time just to secure a boat ride in the shallow parts of Crystal River.
Read through for a comprehensive guide about scalloping in Crystal River, Florida. We will tell you everything you need to know: when to visit, where to go, what to bring, and what to do.
When To Start Planning Your Scalloping Trip
You should start booking at least 3 to 6 months prior. The demand for water activities in Crystal River, like scalloping, is very high during summer, so reserving your charter early on is vital if you plan to visit during peak season.
When To Visit For Scalloping
Scalloping season usually lasts throughout summer. The season may vary slightly, but it typically starts at the beginning of July and runs through part of September.
Where To Go For Scalloping
Crystal River has an abundance of fertile scalloping grounds – check out a few areas we recommend:
Crystal River Sport Fishing
Sport Fishing Slip, 12645 W Fort Island Trail
At Crystal River Sport Fishing, you can book a private scallop charter. That includes a boat, a captain, and all the equipment you need to enjoy scalloping.
Visitors can scallop for a maximum of 4 hours, and a maximum of 6 people are allowed on a boat. If this is where you want to go scalloping, book a charter through the Crystal River Sport Fishing website.
High Octane Fishing Charters
900 N Appalachian Terrace
High Octane’s scallopers meet up at Shrimp Landing Seafood before boarding the boat. You can book one of two trips: one begins at 7:30 am and the other at 12:30 pm.
After scalloping, High Octane Fishing Charters offers to cook your catch if you want to eat them right away. If you’re interested, book a charter on its website.
Florida Fishing Adventures
9340 W Fort Island Trail
Florida Fishing Adventures provides fishing recommendations and guides for people looking for a recreational fishing experience. Guests can also book one of two scalloping tours:
- Plan 1: 4 hours scalloping
- Plan 2: 2 hours fishing and 2 hours scalloping
What To Bring When Scalloping
Now that you know where to go, here are a few things that you’ll need for a safe and enjoyable recreational scalloping at Crystal River. Although some of these are provided when you book a charter, guests are still encouraged to bring their personal diving equipment for comfort and sanitary reasons.
- Diving mask: Make sure that your mask is a snug fit – this makes it easier for you to find hiding scallops and avoid getting water into your eyes.
- Diving snorkel: Not everyone can hold their breath for extended periods of time, so a snorkel can really come in handy.
- Soft blade fins: Not all people use fins to dive, but they help you move around the water faster. Soft blade fins are ideal for shallow waters.
- Small mesh bag: Use mesh bags to carry the scallops that you collect. We recommend smaller-sized mesh bags because they create less drag underwater than larger ones.
- Drinking water: Scalloping is just as exhausting as any other physical activity, so bring some water to rehydrate. Remember, it’s summer, and the heat may get to you!
- Sunscreen: Summer sun is no joke. Protect your skin from the heat with reef-safe sunscreen.
- Rash guard: Other than protection from the sun, rash guards also provide protection from jellyfish and other underwater creatures.
Where To Rent Scalloping Tools
If you don’t want to take too many things with you on your trip, many charters offer rental equipment on-site. If you forgot to bring yours, you can typically also buy brand-new snorkels on the spot.
If you’re renting equipment, make sure they are sanitized before and after use.
Safety Tips For Scalloping
For your safety and well-being, boat captains and guides should sanitize rental gear before and after use – double-check that they do this or use your own gear for peace of mind.
Prepare Legal Requirements
For people who want to scallop without a guide, Florida requires visitors and residents 16 years old and above to carry a fishing license before diving. Those exempted from the rule are guests younger than 16 and scallopers on a charter boat with recreational fishing licenses.
Bring A Dive Flag
A dive flag’s purpose is to alert others that people are diving within 300 feet of the flag. If you are scalloping without a guide, raise the dive flag to signal to other vessels to avoid passing by. Charter boats always have one of these on board, so there is no need to bring your own flag if you plan to book a boat with a guide.
Always Have A Guide On Board
Visitors who bring their own boat are not required to get a guide, but we still recommend hiring one for a safe and hassle-free scalloping experience. The guides know the waters very well, and they can take you to spots with an abundance of scallops – saving you time and stress.
How To Scallop In Crystal River
1. Time Your Scalloping
It’s great to dive in the morning, but it is easier to see scallops in hiding with the afternoon sun. Refer to local fishing guidelines when planning your scalloping tour – in Crystal River, the maximum time a person can dive for scallops is 4 hours.
2. Look For A Diving Spot
Scalloping guides know exactly where to go. But if you’re diving with your own boat, you can easily find scallops in waters around 3-5 feet in depth. Scallops reside in grassy sea beds, which are typically easy to find in Crystal River’s clear waters.
3. Display Dive Down Flag
Before you jump into the water, make sure that the dive flag is up and clearly visible to other vessels.
4. Catch Scallops
Dive in and have fun catching scallops! According to local fishing guidelines, each person is allotted a maximum catch of two gallons, with a maximum of ten gallons per boat per day. Don’t worry – two gallons is more than enough to fill you up!
5. Keep Scallops In A Cooler
Charters always have a cooler on the boat to store your catch and keep them fresh until you get to the shore.
6. Enjoy Your Scallops
Scallops are great when eaten fresh! After your scalloping trip, head to one of the fish-cleaning stations at the port. These stations offer to clean, prepare, and cook your catch for you for a small price. Your charter may also offer to do these services for you as part of your tour package.
When planning a scalloping activity, you should know exactly where you’re going, when you’re going, and what to do when you get there. Crystal River is one of the best places to visit for scalloping – a fun and relaxing activity that people of every age, with or without diving experience, can easily enjoy.
We hope this comprehensive guide to scalloping helps you make the most out of your adventure. Book your next scalloping trip and secure a charter now!
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