01 January 2015
Things Will Wind Down in August
By Chuck Spicer
That sound you hear is a collective sigh of relief as the busiest Forgotten Coast “Summer Family Vacation Season” in history begins to wind down.
How do we know it was the busiest ever? It will be several months before the state actually reports short term accommodations tax numbers but tourism watchers just KNOW that the Forgotten Coast has never been busier. One way that we KNOW is that even monthly increases of upwards of 6,000 copies of “Forgotten Coastline” did not completely satisfy the visitor cravings for even more information about this ecotourism destination.
August is a “tweener” month on this coast as many parents head back to higher & drier (as in landlocked) ground to register their crumb-snatchers for the upcoming school year. The dates vary. So do our August busy periods. And “empty nesters” instinctively know that now is their time. Not too many youngsters, traffic jams or lines at area restaurants and shops.
The air and water temps are still high so August is ideal for beach and swimming activities. The fishing is unbelievable and the scallops are succulent (scallop season runs thru Sept. 24). For those of us who live and work on the Forgotten Coast, the more ideal months of the year are just beginning.
Our August calendar of festivals and special events is certainly varied. From the extremely arduous (Sizzler 5k Race) to the very relaxing (presentation on the “First People of the Forgotten Coast”). Even potentially profitable ($5,000& $3,000 respectively for the heaviest King in two local tournaments).
The recreational bay scallop season is open in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County. The season will remain open through Sept. 24, with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25. All other regulations, including bag and vessel limits, apply.
Recreational scallop hunting is a mighty popular pastime on Florida’s Forgotten Coast and is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Now that the season is open vehicles line the roadways in Port St. Joe (Gulf County) and along scenic route C-30 all the way to the tip of Cape San Blas as individuals and families enjoy gathering the evening meal.
Scalloping is a fun activity the entire family can enjoy. Scallop season only lasts a couple of months, June to September, but during that time St. Joseph Bay draws visitors from all over seeking to fill their buckets with the succulent morsels. Catching them is easy, cleaning them a little harder, and feasting on them simply delicious.
How do I scallop? Scalloping is relatively easy for beginners and doesn't require much more than a saltwater fishing license and a mandatory dive flag, if snorkeling. A mask and snorkel gliding over the grass beds in 2-3 foot deep water is the preferred method. Many simply wade out from the shore but if you use a boat please consider preservation of our grass beds and avoid motoring in low tides to prevent scarring of the bottom. Scallops are a bivalve mollusk that can be found resting on blades of grass or sometimes sitting on the sandy bottom. A good way to spot them is to look for the myriad of glowing blue eyes along the edge of their shells. It takes quite a few scallops to make a meal, and the bigger they are the better. Consider throwing back small scallops of under 2" for a little more growth as the meat size may not be worth harvesting.
Some larger families and groups rent a pontoon boat and make it a true non-perilous family adventure. We have been receiving a whole lot of phone calls about the best scallop searching spots in Wakulla County. Admittedly, we don’t know!