PASCO COUNTY, FL (CW44 News At 10) – July 17, 2020 – Scalloping Season in Pasco County officially opened on Friday and will remain open through July 26, 2020 (10 days). This region includes all state waters south of the Hernando – Pasco county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse in northern Pinellas County, and includes all waters of the Anclote River.

“Scalloping is basically a big giant underwater Easter egg hunt,” said Captain Wendy Longman, who owns Windsong Charters and Boat Rentals in New Port Richey. “You… are alive in your own natural aquarium. To go and search and see what is down there.”

Captain Wendy Longman has been preparing for scalloping season for weeks now. Friday is the officials start of scalloping season in Pasco County. The season runs from July 17th through July 26th this year.

“You see a scallop and all of a sudden he wants to swim away and the first time I actually saw a scallop swim I was just mesmerized,” said Longman.

CW44’s Andrea Alvarez visited two captains who were out on the water Friday to talk about what to  expect. Longman and Captain Mark Dillingham head for the gulf every day in Pasco County during the 10-day season with a packed schedule.

“My phone has still been blowing off the hook. Everyone trying to get last minute charters booked. Fortunately for me I’m booked almost solid but unfortunately a lot of people are waiting too long to get into the action,” said Mark Dillingham, Charter Captain at Inshore Adventures. “The weather’s been perfect. I don’t think you could ask for anything better.”

Some of that could be a response from the 25 year gap in Pasco County’s scalloping season which reopened in 2018. But Captain Mark says the closure helped.

“These last few years, our numbers increased dramatically. I mean when we throw our cast net catching live bait for our fishing charters, we’re pulling in scallops in our cast net on almost every single throw,” said Dillingham.

Despite the rush, both captains tell me there’s plenty to go around.

“Everybody’s going to catch their limit in a couple hours. I’ve been seein’ ‘em out there and they’re plentiful,” said Longman.

“Just being out there, I’ve done some pre-scouting and our numbers are looking as good if not better than last year,” said Dillingham “I’ve seen tons from the boat, not even being in the water.”

So don’t forget your supplies…

“Yea you definitely want a dive mask and snorkel. You want a mesh bag so you can throw your scallops in there,” said Longman.

And most of all, keep an eye out for the shiny blue reflections!

“When that sun’s shining on them, it makes them really stand out,” said Dillingham.

“It’s family fun, you’re social distancing, you get outside, fresh air, you get exercise, and they’re just so yummy,” said Longman. “You’re in the Gulf and pick a spot, any spot and drop anchor and go lookin’ for scallops!”

For further information on local scalloping, visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website.

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