Pasco scalloping opened Friday and word is opening day was great. So many jumped in on the action, however, that by the time the weekend was winding down, it was getting tougher to find a limit.
Larry at Tarpon Trading Company said he was on the water and the boats around Anclote Key and flats off the Anclote River had the area looking like a Walmart parking lot on Black Friday.
The season is just 10 days in Pasco waters, so snorkelers have only through Sunday, July 26, to bag a limit, which is 2 gallons of scallops in the shell or 1 pint of scallop meat per angler. The maximum allowed per vessel is 10 gallons whole or a half-gallon of meat.
Scalloping in Hernando and Citrus county waters is open through Sept. 24. Like last year, it appears the pickings are slim in Hernando and the numbers of scallops are down in Homosassa and Crystal River, as well.
Biologists noted that the decline in scallop numbers last year was likely due to Hurricane Michael in 2018. It was hoped that by the 2020 season the numbers of shellfish would rebound to previous levels.
Tackle shop roundup
Cooper’s Shrimp Shack, 727-868-8736: Bill says Hudson anglers have been going to the deepest grass bottom they can find for trout. The bulk of the fish have moved to 15 or more feet of water for the summer spawn. They will take jigs worked near the bottom, as well as live shrimp. Reds are under the mangrove overhangs when the water is up. Look for them in creeks and canals, where anglers also are finding fair numbers of sheepshead and mangrove snapper. A few cobia are being found on the shallow flats and there are lots of sharks around. Offshore anglers have been doing well on gag grouper in 60 to 90 feet of water.
One Stop Bait and Tackle, 727-842-5610: Joe reports the inshore bite has been good on reds and snook, though anglers are fishing early and late to beat the heat. Trout are on the deeper grass beds. Sharks are all over the flats in Pasco County waters. Residential canals are giving up plenty of keeper-sized mangrove snapper on live and frozen shrimp. A few permit have been landed at the Anclote power plant outfall canal. Offshore anglers have been heading to at least 60 feet for gag grouper and deeper for snapper.
The Tackle Box, 727-819-3783: Buck says the trick right now for inshore anglers is finding cooler water. The mouths of rivers and creeks can be a couple of degrees cooler, making them likely spots. Reds are not nearly as affected by the warm water, so look for them in the usual places around rock and oyster beds. Don’t bother stopping for trout until you get to 12 feet of water or more. The fish will be over grass bottom in the deep water for the summer spawn. Offshore anglers fishing 60 to 80 feet of water are reporting doing well on gags and reds snapper.
Tarpon Trading Company, 727-937-1488: Larry reports he took a trip over the weekend around Anclote Key. Fishing the sand bar north of the island, he caught a good number of large trout. Many were between 18 and 22 inches. All were released, as the season is closed. He spotted birds working bait schools off the west side of Anclote Key and thinking it was bluefish he pulled up to see what was feeding on the bait from below. It turned out to be a massive school of large ladyfish. Many scallopers were out for the opening of the season Friday. He noticed that the grass beds on the east side of Anclote Key, particularly off Dutchman Key, were jammed with boats hunting the shellfish.
J&J Bait and Tackle II, 727-940-7928: James says most of the word he got from the weekend was from scallopers working the Anclote area. He said many reported a good haul on opening day Friday, but the hunting slowed some as the weekend wore on. Those who fished found the usual mix of reds and trout. Snook are still on the beach at Anclote Key and the other barrier islands for the summer spawn. The warm flats are loaded with small sharks.