Scalloping Staycation in Crystal River

Take a drive up to the Nature Coast hot spot for bay scalloping, cook-your-catch dining experiences, fishing tournaments, and more

Scalloping in Crystal River. Photo courtesy of Discover Crystal River
Scalloping in Crystal River. Photo courtesy of Discover Crystal River

As of July 1, scalloping season is officially underway! For folks looking to take part in the annual event, Crystal River, Homosassa, Inverness, and Floral City are ideal locales to snorkel and dive for bay scallops along the Gulf of Mexico.

Hop in the car for a speedy 241-mile road trip to Crystal River and the surrounding towns, all perched along Florida’s Nature Coast. In addition to scalloping, visitors can enjoy catch-and-cook dining, and even enter the 2023 STAR Fishing Tournament. Here are four ways to make the most of your visit:

Scallop Season

Now through September 24, Crystal River and Homosassa’s scalloping season will draw visitors from all over Florida.

Hidden in the grassy ocean floor, scallops are found in the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico. Scalloping is a family-friendly underwater adventure that only requires a mask, snorkel, flippers, and scoop net.

As a bonus, divers usually also encounter starfish, seahorses, and other animals during the process. A saltwater fishing license is required unless scalloping with a charter captain, which is why hiring a local guide is recommended. Visitors can find a variety of local accommodations here.

Catch-and-Cook Feast

Fishing or scalloping in Crystal River and Homosassa often includes a time-honored Florida tradition: cooking your catch. After a fun full day of fishing or scalloping, hungry visitors can enjoy their spoils courtesy of local chefs who masterfully create flavorful dishes using the fresh seafood.

Simply call ahead to one of the participating restaurants before bringing in a cleaned catch, and they will do the rest, transforming your trophy into a memorable meal.

Cast a Line Anywhere

Fishing is a way of life in Citrus County that goes back generations. Some of the best inshore and offshore fishing guides reside here, ready to share their experience gained from a lifetime on the water.

Guides know how to make the most of a day, tailoring fishing trips to the season, weather conditions, and desires of professional and recreational anglers alike. Citrus County is home to some of the world’s most sought-after fishing destinations, including the Chassahowitzka River, Halls River, Crystal River, and Homosassa River. Inland, Lake Rousseau and the 30-mile-long Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes along the margin of the Withlacoochee River are home to large-mouth bass, white bass, crappie, stripers, bowfin, and gar, making it one of Florida’s top freshwater fishing sites.

2023 STAR Competition

The CCA Florida STAR 2023 Tournament has returned for the ninth year, inviting anglers to compete for prizes valued at almost $500,000, including boats, motors, scholarships, and more.

This year’s competition is comprised of 15 divisions targeting inshore and offshore species, along with trash cleanup. One of the best opportunities to catch the competition’s 2023 tagged redfish will be in Citrus County, one of two destination counties, which has eight tagged redfish, twice the number of standard coastal counties. For more information about the annual event, click here.

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