Anglers and scallopers hoping to be on the water at Steinhatchee during the 2013 July 4 holiday weekend were met by rain squalls on both Thursday and Friday. However, by Saturday the humidity fell, the skies (and the water) cleared, and limits of bay scallops, sea trout and redfish were seen at the cleaning table at the Sea Hag Marina as early as 11AM.
As is usually the case during the early days of the recreational bay scallop season, snorkelers find that they often have to move around to find concentrations of the tasty bivalves. Several areas within easy reach from the mouth of the river are considered “trustworthy” and those were the sites of huge gatherings of boats flying dive flags.
To the north, the grass flats near the Big Grass Island bird rack were busy. This area is about 9 miles northwest of the Steinhatchee #1 marker. Here, reports for the past weekend were of better catches in the deeper cuts, with the scallops on the small size, with smaller muscles. Water clarity was good, depending on the tidal flow. The weekend’s pre-new moon tides were strong, and did affect water clarity. The upcoming weekend’s neap tides will be slower, making sighting your prey easier.
To the south of Steinhatchee, there were three areas that attracted scallopers this past weekend. Most popular was the area of grassy flats north of the Pepperfish Keys. The run to Pepperfish is about 9 miles from either Steinhatchee or Horseshoe Beach. This past weekend, snorkelers reported “hundreds” of boats in this area. Other options for Steinhatchee scallopers are the areas off Rocky Creek or Hardy Point, just south of the river mouth. At the southern spots, scallops seemed to be larger and more mature, with a higher yield of meat. The waters to the south were more clear and than those to the north.
For a detailed story on scalloping, please see: Bay Scallops–The Gulf of Mexico’s Tastiest Treat.
Scallopers don’t usually get very close to shore, so anglers targeting reds and seatrout have lots of shoreline all to themselves. Capt. Rick Davidson and I fished the weekend, and found the fish hungry and eager to eat topwater lures. Floating grass was an issue in some areas, but the best bite seemed to be in shallow water (1 to 2- feet), right along the grass, at the bottom of the tide, after the grass had washed away from shore.