Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Hunt for Scallops

Wesley Chapel, Florida

We got up about 5:30 am, had a few cups of coffee, and were out the door by 7:30. 

It was already 80 degrees when we left the house, so we knew it was going to be a hot day….for everyone else, but us.  We were going to be out on the water! 

We stopped by and reminded the campground office that we were going to be gone all day and were concerned about another power outage.  They assured us that someone would check the coach several times.  I gave them my phone number….just in case.  I reminded them we had kitties inside.

We had about an hour drive north to Homosassa, Florida.  Our friends, Skip and Terry have a beautiful vacation house right on the Homosassa River.  They aren’t far from the head springs where the crystal clear water flows into the river at the rate of 64 million gallons per day.

They have two boats that the are kept up, and out of the water on davits inside the boat house.  When they want to use the boat, they just push a button to lower it into the water.  What a great system.

Here is the boat we used today.  I think it was about a 22 footer.  Plenty roomy enough for the four of us and all our stuff.

Skips boat all put away

They also have a pontoon boat that is better for river travels.  We had hoped to get a chance to cruise the river, but there was so much boat traffic on the river, that it wasn’t a great time for a pontoon boat.  It’s also kept high and dry on davits.

Skips pontoon boat

We loaded all of our stuff into the boat and headed down the river.  It was a about a 3-4 mile trip from their house to the Gulf of Mexico, and then another 6-8 miles north in the Gulf,  up to Crystal River.

They had been very successful in this area the past few days.


Terry and I sat up front in the shade from the bimini top.  There were a lot of boats on the water and it was choppy at times, but Skips boat went right over those waves and it was a pretty smooth ride.  Al’s getting boat fever again, I’m afraid!  I am too, actually.

We went by this interesting house right at the end of the river, facing the gulf.  They rent it out by the week.  I’m sure It’s very expensive.

rental house on island

It had a wonderful huge weather vane.

interesting weather vane

We couldn’t believe how many boats there were.  They were everywhere!

We finally got in the vicinity we wanted.  We could tell it was a good spot because there were hundreds of boats in the area.  I’m not exaggerating.

That is Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant in the background. 

Crystal River Nuclear power plant and lots of scallop boats

Lots of boats.


Scallops are found in grassy areas.  We were in about 3-4 feet of water, with a very grassy bottom.  I wished I could have taken some underwater pictures, but I didn’t bring my underwater camera with me.  

This is a picture that I borrowed from the internet.  It clearly shows the little blue eyes.   I felt kind of bad grabbing them with those blue eyes looking at me.

Fullscreen capture 772012 82621 AM.bmp

The scallops are just laying in the grass part way open like in the picture above.  You just reach down and get them.  They will try to get out of your ditty bag if you’re not careful. They move by just flapping around.   All you need are a mask, fins, and snorkel and you’re in business.

Here is a very wet Al posing with some of our catch.

Al's scallops

Al's scallops

Apparently, Skip picked a good spot because the scallops were plentiful and we had our two gallons per person limit in about an  hour and a half.

al holding a scallop

Terry lost her $40 snorkel, so we all went in and searched (unsuccessfully) for it.  That’s the price of scuba and snorkeling.  The ocean seems to claim a lot of gear.

We headed back towards their house for the unpleasant part of scalloping…….the cleaning process.

Terry pulled out the awning on their dock so we were in the shade. She made us margaritas and then set up cleaning stations for the three of us .  Skips job was to clean the boat.  I would have much rather cleaned the boat, let me tell you!


The dock where we cleaned our scallops

I didn’t ever quite get around to taking pictures of the cleaning process.  I had gooey fingers, most of the time.  Sick smile

Terry showed us how to do it.  Those scallops are pretty yucky inside.  It looks kind of like a combination of guts and thick snot.  After I sort of gagged a big, Terry took pity on me and said she would remove the guts and then I could finish the cleaning of the scallop.  Okay….I can do this.  Now, how do I do it without touching the stuff?

She gave Al instructions on how to clean a scallop but after he murdered about a dozen, she fired him and he and Skip went to the dive shop to pick up a new snorkel for Terry.

Hey, don’t fire Al…he can learn….don’t leave me….

It was a slow process.  I guess you can’t say it was slow.  Terry was very fast, we just had a LOT of scallops….hundreds…I guess.    My back was hurting sitting there on a cooler cleaning.  Terry was a real trooper.  She was sitting on the dock on a towel, going to town and never complained once! 

Finally, Skip and Al got back and with Skips expert help we got to the end of the scallops.  yea…

We started with  two five gallon buckets almost full.

bucket of scallops


Here is what we ended up with.

scallops after cleaning...result of 8 gallons of scallops

We had such a wonderful day.   The weather was perfect.  The water was crystal clear and warm.  The scallops were plentiful.  Our hosts were wonderful and we were back on the water!  We left their place about 6:30 pm and got home about 12 hours after we left.   It was a long day.

We came home (carryout pizza in hand), tired and happy.  The a/c was running and the house was nice and cool.  We were both very tired and were in bed shortly.

Thank you Skip and Terry.  We had such a wonderful time!!!!!   I neglected to take a picture of our hosts.   I actually took a few of Terry but they weren’t flattering and I didn’t dare use them.


  1. Great idea of letting the office know you would be gone for the day.
    What wonderful friends, and what a beautiful boat. I have never seen a Scallop shell. Boy are they pretty. The eyes are really interesting.
    My Paul would NEVER be able to clean them. He would gag one time and say...You do it.
    Why are you eating pizza when you have all those delicious Scallops?

  2. I have some wonderful memories of going scalloping with one of my best friends and her family when we were teenagers. Since I'm actually afraid of the water, I cleaned scallops in the boat while everyone else went searching. It was actually a lot of fun, and not something I've done since then. I lost my friend in a car accident 14 years ago, and you've reminded me of some very sweet moments. Thank you!

    1. Boy could we have used you yesterday!!! Scallop cleaning is not one of my favorite things!!! Sorry about your friend.

      We hope to be your way sometime soon. I'd like to see you again.

    2. We would love to see you, too! Olivia keeps asking how 'Karen that we saw in her motor home at Blue Spring' is doing. She's so cute! We're probably heading to Weeki Wachee for her birthday next Saturday. :)

  3. Very funny about your cleaning the scallops. I could just about feel you cringe. Sounds like a fabulous day though. Are those little blue things all eyes? They have so many eyes. Not sure I can eat them after looking at that. I thought they were really cute.

  4. It's probably like cleaning Maryland crabs - a whole lot of work. But I think the crabs are worth it. Scallops not so much. Jim would have taken over your job for you.

  5. what a lovely day on the water!!..and the pot of scallops at the end?..delicious!..never mind how they got there..eww!

  6. Yum on the scallops! Might just have to do that when we return to Cedar Key in September. I'm ot sure I would like cleaning them either but bet the pay-off is worth it!

  7. Those houses along the river are beautiful! We were too nervous to buy something that close to the water though, my luck would have the biggest hurricane to ever hit the area show up! Al used to scallop up north on Long Island...they are bigger and have a nuttier flavor than Florida scallops. And yes, cleaning them is the most difficult thing, as well as yukky. But they taste so good its worth it.

  8. Looks like something I would have enjoyed doing... love scallops...

  9. What a great haul - I LOVE scallops! So did you eat any, have them for lunch? Take any home? I'm so jealous, I'll be happy to clean them if I ever get a chance to collect fresh scallops! :)

  10. Wow, that would turn me vegetarian for sure. You've got more "guts" than i do!

  11. Those were really big Scallops! Thanks for not showing pics of the cleaning process - it probably would have put me off Scallops for life!

  12. Very interesting post. I wish I had some friends with a boat. :)

    1. Well, if Al gets his will!

  13. I love being on the water, but can skip the scallops:)

  14. Craig's Grandma used to say "You have to be able to taste the..." in reference to the job of killing and plucking chickens. I would think it would be much the same for scallops.

  15. All that work and you end up eating pizza???

  16. I love scallops but I don't think I could eat them if I had to clean them.
    sounds like a fun day though.

  17. cleaning scallops, not for me! UGH. Glad you spared us. :-) Sounds like a wonderful day out on the water.

  18. If my memory serves me right, this years scallop season has been extended until mid-Sept. Gives you plenty of time to go get more. In the past, near Macraes "The Shed", on the Homosassa River, there are folks who will clean your scallops for you, for a fee of course. That's my style, I can enjoy a cold beer while I wait. :-)

    1. We stopped on the way back for boat gas and there were people there offering to clean them for $4 a gallon. Next time I will definitely do that!! Al and I are TERRIBLE scallop cleaners!

  19. Two five gallon buckets are a lot of scallops to clean, but the end result sure looked worth it. I have been on the Crystal River before but never knew you coud go scallop hunting there. Sounds like a fun day on the water.

  20. Two five gallon buckets are a lot of scallops to clean, but the end result sure looked worth it. I have been on the Crystal River before but never knew you coud go scallop hunting there. Sounds like a fun day on the water.

    1. You can't find scallops in the river, but just right off shore in the sea grasses. It was so much fun!

  21. I agree with Rick...thanks for not sharing the cleaning process. I love scallops and want to continue to enjoy them. LOL! Glad you had such a good time with your friends.

  22. It looks like you had a great day! I am guessing no more problems with your electric?

  23. I LOVE scallops....what a fun day...I want to go sometime... thanks for the pics and sharing your day!


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