After my fun trip to Sebastian Inlet, I was barely able to limp home with my old motor home that had lost an alternator as well as the starter.
With only a day to spare to make the opening of scallop season on Florida's West Coast, I wasn't sure of my next move. Luckily the good guys at Fletcher's Seaside Automotive in Ormond-by-the-Sea went to work and completed the job in record time. Fletcher's can fix most anything from your motorcycle to your motor home -- good guys to know.
Now I was able to leave in the dark of morning and arrive at Crystal River by 9 a.m. Snorkeling for scallops is about as much fun as you could hope for and my wife Lana and I have been collecting those tasty critters for the past 22 years.
As we motored out of the Crystal River Inlet and turned southwest toward the bay off Homosassa Springs, the weather was perfect. Before long we could see our destination. About 4 miles off shore the water shallows up to around 5 feet in depth and becomes so clear.
We had no trouble locating the scallop grounds for there must have been over 100 boats already there. It was an amazing array of vessels. Air boats, sailboats, johnboats and just about anything that would float was being utilized to hunt for the prize. It almost looked as though the almighty had used a huge peppershaker filled with boats to dot a 6 square mile area.
(If you don't know what a scallop looks like, it is the same shell that is used by the Shell gasoline stations.)
The water was as clear as it can get and the bottom featured stag coral, brain coral and large purple sponges. As Lana and I swam about with all of the tropical fish it was easy to forget about looking for our target. Our beautiful surroundings made the trip a success before we began to gather the shellfish.
Everyone out there reaped the bounty provided by the Gulf Of Mexico. It is a real family affair with some large pontoon boats featuring grandparents, moms and dads and the kids. A few even brought the dog.
This is a sport I wish you all would try. The season runs until Sept. 24 and we had so much fun we may have to make another trip before it ends.
Speaking of seasons, the Florida spiny lobster mini season is on July 30-31 this year. That's another fun thing that draws a huge crowd to the Keys and other parts of the state. If you are thinking of heading south for the two-day season, you should already have your reservations. If not, you may have waited too late.
Locally the lobster will be offshore in very deep water. It is not unusual for divers to take big lobster in the 5 to 8 pound range, but they will come up from 90 feet depths. If you haven't had Caribbean lobster you are missing out. For my money they are better tasting than the cold-water variety, but the price is higher at the market so unless you catch them yourself, be prepared to shell out some bucks.
I had a disturbing call from a guy who is a local commercial crabber. He told me his traps are constantly being robbed. That is a shame because no one works harder than the crabbers.
The caller told me that in the past couple weeks he had lost nearly 100 pounds of blue crab to thieves. He said he suspects the criminals are recreational fishermen.
Folks, that has to stop. Please report any suspicious activity to the Florida Wildlife Commission, Marine Patrol or any local law enforcement.
As for the perpetrators, I hope you realize this is a very serious crime. These days we live in a society that is under constant surveillance. The next time you consider stealing crabs think about the cameras that may be on you.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to email@example.com. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.