Scallop season opened July 1st this year to mixed reviews in the local papers. Due to the tropical storm and all the rain it produced, people claimed to have a hard time seeing scallops because of the lack of water clarity. We decided we were gonna go find out for ourselves how clear the water was.
We usually make it scalloping on opening day. I really can’t remember the last time I wasn’t in Horseshoe Beach on July 1st or opening day of scalloping season,but I couldn’t make it happen this year . On Saturday, July 7th, my dad Dan, his friend Randy and myself decide to make the trip to Horseshoe to do some scalloping and fishing.
Low tide was around 9:30 am and all the reports I had from folks who had already gone scalloping said to go during low tide. Once the water got to around 4-5’ you couldn’t see anything. So we decided it was best to go ahead and scallop and then try some fishing once we had our limit. This is completely backwards of the way I really like to do things. I would much rather fish in the morning before it gets too damn hot, then when you can’t stand the heat anymore, take your ass scalloping. But nature dictated the opposite.
We were trying to scallop away from people as much as possible, but we just weren’t getting the numbers we needed while staying away from the crowd. We were only getting 9 or 10 a person per dive north of Horseshoe, so we decided eventually to get right in the middle of the madness. This is where we scored the majority of our scallops. Everybody was piled up behind Pepperfish.
I counted 86 boats from afar, so there were definitely more than that. Once we got in the middle of everyone, we started really rounding the scallops up. If we would have not been anti-social from the get go, we would have probably got our five gallons in a matter of minutes. I’d say probably around 45 minutes would have been the magic number. I wish I had an underwater camera to show some of you folks who have never been scalloping before what they look like in the water, but that will have to be for another post on another day.
After the scalloping was done we needed bait because nobody in Horseshoe had live shrimp. We had to rely solely on the cast net if we wanted to fish with live bait. This took a little longer than usual because Dan caught a sheepshead and a redfish in the cast net before he caught one mullet. Once again we did what any law abiding citizens would do and dutifully released them back into the wild on account of them being game fish and not subject to cast netting.
It was so damn hot it was hard to stay in the boat. You just wanted to get back in the water, but the water really wasn’t much relief either being that it was about 83 degrees. Since we didn’t want to stay on the boat for too long we anchored on a bar and waded for the rest of the day. My dad caught a smaller red he could keep and and really nice one that was about 24”. He also landed a decent sized trout. Me and poor Randy didn’t catch jack shit. That’s not entirely true. I caught a juvenile catfish about 5” long and Randy caught a monster sting ray. Needless to say, my dad had quite a good time rubbing it in on the way home.
Next Saturday, high tide in Horseshoe Beach is 10:41 am, so I will without question, fish in the morning and scallop in the afternoon. I had a fine damn time last Saturday as the weather was beautiful and the scallops plentiful. Maybe next weekend the fish will be for me too.