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By Capt. Brylee
Special to the Pioneer
As the waters continue to recover from Debby, scallops will start to become more prevalent.
As in the weeks past many scallops are being taken in waters of seven feet or more; but as the waters clear more each week, they will move closer in.
Remember to try and scallop on the incoming tides as they are more visible but if time doesn’t allow you to, dive deeper and look beneath the grass and in little hidden holes.
Most of the time when you find one, look to all sides and you may find more as scallops like to linger in clumps.
Due to the results of the annual FWC Scallop Survey the scallop population has very drastic results.
While Crystal River/Homosassa area showed just a moderate decrease in scallops, Steinhatchie/ Keaton Beach show drastic declines. St. Mark’s/ Lanark Village areas showed a drastic increase.
A comparison of 2011 count to 2012 is provided below. The surveys are conducted in a 600 square meter area (656 square yards) by biologists each spring.
Scalloping is a great way to spend the summer months. All you need is a snorkel and mask, a mesh bag, diving flag and a salt water fishing license mixed with a desire to swim in the ocean and you are all set.
Horseshoe Beach and Keaton Beach both offer areas you can walk into the bay and will not even need a boat.
Scallop limits are two gallons whole or one pint meat per person or up to 10 gallons whole or gallon meat per vessel. Carry a five gallon bucket to measure whole volume and put your scallops on ice as soon as you can. This will keep them fresh as well as making cleaning them easier.
With the summer heat warming the waters, two things come to mind. Sharks and Black Drum. The warm waters bring the sharks inshore to feed and the black drum begin to fin.
The shark are laying only a few miles off shore in an area just north of Cedar Key, commonly called the “shark hole” by the locals and is a fine place to find em’.
Lady fish, Jack Cravelle, and almost any cut bait have proven to work for me.
I always use at least a 24” to 36” steel leader when going for shark as they can bite and even whip their tail and break most monofilament line.
Don’t fish like this with your light weight rigs; you’ll only be left with slack line and a disappointment.
Black Drum are a whole nother story. These guys you can find around Shell Mound and the inlets to a lot of rivers feeding into the Gulf. Most of the time they are feeding in shallow waters and you can see them with their back fins poking out of the water as they feed on the bottom.
You will need to be in areas where the waters hold oyster beds and shell mounds.
Many times they are found in waters of less than two feet. Live shrimp, pin fish, cut bait and even jigs can entice them to feed.
Our feature catch is a personal one. One hot July heat my step brother and I took a 14’ John Boat out in Shell Mound. With a 12’ push pole we worked our way around the oyster beds and grassy islands looking for FINS.
About 300 yards from the landing we saw the finning of three or four black drum. We push poled our way across the channel to the shallows and I threw a dead pin on a number two hook about three feet in front of the fin and waited.
After a few moments I realized I was getting no response so I reeled in a little and gave my pole rigged with 12lb test a little jerk.
Ziiiiiiinnnnnngggg was all I heard after that point for about four or five seconds. I set my drag, lowered my pole, and set my hook!
The back force nearly pulled me out of the little boat we were fishing.
Realizing we were not going to muscle this fish in, Richard pulled the anchor and we began to allow the fish to pull our boat, while all the time I am keeping tension and reeling like crazy each time he turned toward us.
After 45 minutes of having fun wrestling this beast, and letting him take us for a boat ride over 500 yards from where we hooked him we landed a 54 pounder.
On the bad side; we still had to pole our way back to shore, but on the good side I got scales off that big boy that were large enough to file down into guitar picks.
Please obey all State and Local Laws and remember to CATCH AND RELEASE.
Good luck catching.