Crystal River, about 80 miles from the Brandon area, is a great place to go scalloping with family and friends.

By Faith Miller

Crystal River, a coastal city located just north of Homosassa, is home to many activities for friends and families to enjoy during the summer months. Activities there include the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Three Sisters Springs and Wildlife Refuge, the Crystal River Archaeological State Park, historic downtown, boating and many more springs and fun places to visit.

One of the things the area is most known for in the summer months is that it’s a great place to go hunting for scallops. The season for bay scallops runs from early July to early September and they are normally found in the warm, shallow, waters of the coast, typically in eelgrass.

It is a fun, family-friendly activity that only requires “a mask, snorkel, flippers and one exceptional charter captain,” stated the city website.

There are many options for families looking to get in the water; if they don’t have a boat of their own, there are multiple charters and tours available in the area for people of all ages. If a family does bring a boat of their own, they must make sure they have a dive flag and are recommended to bring a swimming mask and snorkel, flippers, a life jacket and a mesh bag to carry the scallops.

Adults ages 16-65 are required to have a Florida fishing license before they can begin scalloping.

Another feature of the area is that multiple locations offer a special where you bring in your scallops and they cook and serve them to you in the restaurant. The customer needs to either call ahead or let the host know they want to “cook their catch.” Next, they just need to make sure to bring their scallops pre-shucked and cleaned to the restaurant, then let the chefs do the rest.

The meal is traditionally served with the customers catch along with what is referred to as the “fixin’s” that can also be served family-style. Some restaurants that offer this option include The Freezer Tiki Bar, Charlie’s Fish House, Backwater Fins Island Bar and Grill and many more.

For more information on the area and scallop season, along with a list of additional restaurants, visit www.discovercrystalriverfl.com.