Bob Hudson is a Friend of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. Friends organizations are crucial to the mission of the Refuge System and essential in helping millions of Americans understand that their actions today determine the legacy we leave for tomorrow. Hudson is Vice President of the Friends group this year, and plans to serve as President in 2014.
Hudson, along with refuge manager Andrew Gude, had offered to take us out on a tunnel-hull flats skiff for a scalloping trip. Recreational scalloping is considered a type of saltwater fishing and used to be popular past time around Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. Only recently have these delicious mollusks begun to thrive again. It was a high low tide on Tuesday morning, meaning the water was a bit deep for scalloping. But that didn’t deter Hudson from finding a thick grassy flat to drop the anchor and having us jump into knee deep water to begin our scalloping quest. To effectively find them, you feel with your feet (preferably with water shoes on) and use your hands or a net to pick them up once you feel the shell. At first both Heather Jerue and I were a bit squeamish. All trip we’ve been hearing about shark breeding grounds, and now here we were, wading through thick turtle grass hoping to locate a scallop with who-knows-what lurking in the murky water.
Our limiting factor on the quest was rain. Florida, this time of year, does not feel like the Sunshine State. Thick rain, lightening and bellowing thunder started coming our way and eventually drove us off the water. Once back on dry land, Hudson invited us to his house for a lesson on cleaning scallops. Scallops generally pop open on ice, and Bob used a shop-vac to remove the innards, leaving the mussel to be removed with a curved, sharp spoon. Bob’s wife Barbara invited us in for some hot team and delicious lime pound-cake. She doesn’t scallop, for the same reasons we were squeamish, and says when her husband’s out there, all she can think about is “how stupid they all look.” They’ve been married for 50 years. It’s probably not the brightest idea to be wading around with baby bull sharks lurking, but it was a fun adventure and the dinner last night was the best yet!