Growing up as a child, my family and I would go scalloping every year. If I remember correctly, you could even scallop in St. Andrew Bay back then. I don’t remember a whole lot about it, but I remember trying to grab the small eels that would poke their head up out of the mud. I remember playing with the sea horses and star fish. Most of all I remember eating scallops at the end of the day and how great they were.
As everyone who knows anyone has heard, the scallops in St. Joe are stacked the thickest they have ever seen. I was excited and ready to go, forgetting my wife, my boys, and my marine corps brother Colby have never truly been. I took my family probably six years ago, and I was the only one who found scallops — and only found like three or something. We went and bought a new mask, dive flag, bags, and gloves since Mr. Hurricane Michael took our old ones. My family was pumped up since I had amped it up and we were going to get scallops for dinner. We loaded up the boat and launched at the Intracoastal bridge in St. Joe. We made the five-minute run to Blacks Island, found a nice sand hole with thick grass around the outside that had a little bit of room from other boats, power poled down, and raised the dive flag up.
I grabbed my mask, bag, and glove and overboard I went. As soon as I got in the water, I found a scallop. Then it occurred to me, half of them have never seen a scallop in a shell and none know what they are looking for. I passed the scallop around for them to see and explained to check the base of the grass, the edge of the sand, and look for the shell, little blue eyes, or brown circles in the mud. I explained don’t get to far from the boat as there were 100 plus boats there and some were running through the crowds on a plane.
We're about five minutes in and I heard yelling. I popped up and it was Colby yelling for Alex, "Come here, there’s a sea turtle circling me." Then I heard Alex, "Dad, come here quick, a sea turtle." I never went over but to hear them talk, it sounded awesome. I stayed kind of close to my wife to make sure she was finding them and no issues. Then I felt her tap me and I looked over and she had caught a tan and black trigger type fish in her dip net, it was about 5 inches. Not sure what it was, but it was released unharmed. A few minutes later, I found a puffer fish hiding in the grass, so I grabbed it and let my wife see it; she didn’t seem amused. I saw about a dozen flounder, and I tried grabbing every one of them but apparently, I no longer have reflexes of a cat, speed of a mongoose. While we were investigating all the sea life, we were all picking scallops as well. You would get in areas and it was like picking fruit out of the basket at the grocery store. We spent between three and four hours scalloping. We had about 8 gallons between us and decided it was time to go, especially since I still had to teach Alex, Jake, and Colby how to clean scallops. It sure was a blast down there with the fam, on the water, doing something I loved.
We got home, cleaned the boat and snorkel gear. Then we toted the cooler to the back porch and grabbed the spoons. For those of you who are un aware, if you use a spoon it is much simpler and quicker to clean scallops. Open the shell, scrape the top, stick the spoon on the back edge of the scallop and scrape with the tip about a quarter to half inch, the scallop will roll up and you can pull it out without messing with all the guts. We spent about 1½ hours cleaning the scallops, and then rinsed and dried the cleaned scallops.
I prefer to sauté ghee (clarified butter), minced garlic, green onion, black pepper, and white cooking wine. Once it's hot, I drop in the scallops and it usually take five to seven minutes. I will either serve with steak, scallops on their own, or on a bed of butternut squash noodles. We ended up with enough that we had scallops for three meals and served all three ways, and I gave the last pint of scallops to my parents.
Anthony Watson of the Liquid Dream Fishing Team shares his fishing adventures weekly in the Entertainer.