HOLIDAY — The trial mini-season for scalloping in Pasco coastal waters left officials with “Initial impressions” that are “very positive,” according to Brendan Fitterer, a public information officer for the county.

The scallop harvest here, July 20-29, was the first since 1994.

Data from studies of the scalloping grounds by state fish and wildlife regulators, as well as visitor profile studies commissioned by Visit Pasco, will take time to complete and compile, Fitterer cautioned.

“Local vendors reported sell-out bookings well ahead of opening day for boat rentals and guide captain services,” Fitterer wrote in a July 30 email reply. “Rain or shine, we saw a consistent turnout throughout the 10 days on Pasco’s coastal waters.”

Pasco officials talked with local families as well as visitors from as far as Chicago while on the water with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fitterer added.

The FWC declared the limited open scalloping season off the Pasco coast, for 2018 only, at its February meeting. It has said it will consider setting the 2019 scalloping season late this year or in early 2019.

New Port Richey resident Rebecca Law said she and her family participated in the Pasco County scalloping season during the second weekend.

“We had good luck on Saturday (July 28),” she wrote in an email recap, “collecting around three gallons between three people in two and one-half hours. We went out from the Anclote boat dock on Saturday morning, arriving at the scallop beds around 10 a.m.” north of the light house.

“There were at least 50 boats in the area around us all scalloping. We started out searching in about 5 feet of water with snorkels and small nets.

“We had more success in the shallower water” about 3-4 feet, she said “and in areas where the grass was not tall and thick. In the shallower water, when a scallop was sighted, we just scooped it up with the net and transferred it to the mesh bag. It was not necessary to dive down to reach the scallop.”

“Once we got home, I shucked the scallops and cleaned them,” Law continued. “We sautéed them in butter and added some spices. They were delicious,” she concluded.

“We enjoyed them so much we returned on Sunday, the last day (July 29)” to find 23 more scallops in two hours.

“This was our first time scalloping,” Law added. “It was so convenient to get out there and scallop. We had a lot of fun and look forward to next season,” Law said.