Florida on a Tankful: Late summer scalloping in Homosassa

By Scott Fais , Feature Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 30, 2017, 11:30 PM EDT

Before dawn in Homosassa, a late summer adventure launches as you head out to the Gulf.

"Come out and experience nature in Florida,” charter boat captain Casey Males with River Safaris said, passing mangroves and sawgrass spikes before dawn.

On this overcast late-summer morning, we’re headed out on an underwater scavenger hunt right in the Bay area.

"Most people compare it to an in-water Easter Egg hunt,” Captain Casey explained.

After a beautiful boat ride to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the anchor is tossed overboard in five feet of water and the dive flag set.

It's here along the fertile grounds of Citrus County where 11-year-old Layton Perkey and his family head overboard with a splash in search of dinner.

"They look like a clam would,” Layton shares. “They have their mouth open, but when they spot you, they close it, so it makes them look like they aren't even there."

The scallops lay on the bottom. The process to find them is simple:

Dive down.

Grab one.

Place it in your bag.

And repeat.

"So far, I have caught 20,” Layton proudly says during a rest break.

Not only did Layton catch scallops, he also found alone time with Mom and Dad, since his sisters were at a slumber party.

"They never let me have one-on-one time,” he said.

Meantime, you won't be alone in these waters. It's not a shark, rather a remora. Captain Casey and first mate Lindsay keep a watchful eye on swimmers and the catch.

"The limit is 10 gallons per boat, or 2 gallons per person,” Lindsey Murphy shared.

One other thing you may bring back from the deep? A new hair style.

"It's a plug of seaweed. And then we've got some weeds,” Lindsey said with a laugh. “This is real Mermaid stuff,” she said pulling seaweed from her long hair.

All too soon, it's time to head back inland. While Lindsey believes September is the best time of year.

"As you wait longer, you find that the scallop meat is actually thicker,” she commented.

Besides a fresh meal, Lindsey also hopes passengers will connect with the Gulf in our own backyard.

"It's almost like a Zen state. They say the water heals you,” Lindsey says of the morning swim. "I hope they bring back whatever signs that they see out here, because there is good stuff to see."

Captain Casey with River Safaris agrees.

"Being able to feel the wind on your face. See that Florida sun and get into the salt [water] and just having a good time tryin' catching scallops is really what we shoot for,“ Casey said.

Know Before You Go:
Reservations are required. Traditionally, River Safari boats leave at 7 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m. Afternoon thunderstorms will cancel boat trips. The cost of scalloping does not include having them cleaned once back on land.  Several local cleaners will clean 2 gallons for $10 dollars.

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