Fishing & Boating

Local captain says now is the time to go swimming for scallops

Summer fishing, especially during August is just plain hot. We've been catching good numbers of redfish around Terra Ceia. They're just beginning to school, but the best time for reds is yet to come — probably within the next couple of months.

In speaking to a fellow guide, I decided to take a busman's holiday and run up to Homosassa River and fish with my friend, Capt. William Toney, a local guide there. He said his peak redfish schooling activity has already started so I should bring it on. Their peak fishing for reds is about a month earlier than ours before we start seeing the big breeder-size reds.

I met up with William at the Homosassa Riverside Resort, a well-known local hot spot for fun and fishing. Being right on the river, the resort has some awesome accommodations at a perfect location. It was about noon when we headed out of the Homosassa River and ran south, with our first stop scheduled for a snorkeling session to look for scallops.

The water was beautiful and clear, the wind light, and seas calm. We anchored, put up our dive flag and went over the side for our first look. Live coral and sponges dotted the large patches of grass that were so abundant in the area. Pinfish were darting in and out of the grass trying to hide, but seemed to be careless about our presence. While swimming along on the surface, we could easily spot scallops that were lying among the patches of grass.

With the tide still running out near the end of its cycle, the grass was laying over, making it a little more of a challenge to spot the scallop shells, but once the tide slacked, the grass began to stand tall, making them more visible. In a little less than an hour we were both back in the boat with our limits of these tasty bivalves.

After we got back in the boat they went on ice. The next hour was spent shucking them with spoons. While it's not a difficult job, it takes a knack, one I picked it up in no time. It's been like 40-something years since I got scallops in Tampa Bay, and this was a real treat for me and a blast to experience again.

Next on the agenda were several stops to look for grouper in shallow 7-foot depths of water just south of Crystal River. We only scored one small gag, but we also caught several trout and some mangrove snapper on CAL Shad tail jigs.

After bottom bumping for gags for awhile, Capt. William decided it was time to run south to some flats off the Chassahowitzka River where the tide was "getting right," according to Toney. The tide had begun moving in at the "Chaz," as locals call it, and with a quickening pace, the fish began to show.

It wasn't long before we were both hooked up using our DOA CAL Jigs with Shad tails. In all, we hooked, landed, and released 5 or 6 nice reds in the 32-to 33-inch range. The fish catching was at a brisk pace and when it got too hot, we just went over the side for another dip.

Scallop season continues to September, and I hope to be making at least one more trip before the season ends to enjoy the heat!

Capt. William may be reached through his website at www.HomosassaInshoreFishing.com or at 1-352-621-9284.

Capt. Ray Markham can be reached at (941) 723-2655 or email flatback@tampabay.rr.com.

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