What's hot: Scallop season, the time to harvest one of our tastiest tidbits on the west coast, opened July 1. Last week's storms and heavy rains pushed the scallops to deeper and saltier waters. As the weather gets back to normal, the scallops return to spawn in their favorite waters.
Equipment: Mask, snorkel, fins, dive flag and a mesh bag are the basic tools to harvest scallops. I add a few comfort tools: gloves, socks to make the fins comfortable and a long-sleeved T-shirt for sunburn and jellyfish stings. A 2-gallon bucket for unshucked and a 1-pint container for cleaned scallops make it easier to know your daily bag limit. See www.myfwc.com, then click "Fishing - Saltwater" for regulations, boundary lines and bag limits.
Where to look: Homosassa, Halls, Wacassasa, Bayport and Steinhatchee are some of the favorite rivers. Groups of boats at the mouth of these rivers usually signal the scallops' location.
Tips: Putting scallops on ice opens them enough to get an oyster knife or spoon in them to clean out the white morsel of edible meat. Use a portable vacuum to extract the unwanted meat, leaving just the white scallop inside the shell.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center, (727) 518-7637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.