For the scores hankering for a taste of the much-anticipated Peconic Bay scallops, the wait is over. The season kicked off yesterday and, according to all sources, this year’s bumper crop is sweet and bountiful.
“It’s good, very good,” said Charlie Manwaring of the Southold Fish Market. “It’s a good harvest. We’ve seen far more already than we had last year.”
Manwaring said favorable conditions, such as the cold winter and a cool summer, had a lot to do with the abundant harvest. “We usually see baby scallops in April, and we didn’t see much then. A lot of what we’re catching must have been a late spawn. Mother Nature came in and did her thing.”
Last year, Manwaring said, the season was a stark contrast. On Tuesday morning, he said, “Last year, we had them for two or three days and it was over. This year, it’s busy. It’s only 9:30 a.m. and we’ve had guys come in that are at their limit already today.”
So busy, Manwaring said, that he has 15 people just opening scallops.
And that’s good news for customers, with prices less expensive this season, he said.
Ken Homan, owner of Braun Seafood in Cutchogue, agreed that the season is “going big.” When asked why, he laughed. “You’d have to ask Mother Nature about that. It’s been a great year. For whatever reason, the stars aligned. I haven’t seen anything like this in a couple of years.”
And that’s “good for everyone,” Homan said. “I grew up doing this. When we were kids, that’s what we all did on the North Fork, so it’s good to see.”
This year’s banner harvest is a welcome sight after last year’s disappointing season, Homan said. “Last year, they all died before the season started. It looked good, but all the scallops had died. This year, they’re all good.”
The challenge, Homan said, is getting them open. “Not a lot of people are used to opening Peconic Bay scallops and now you have volume, and you need to get them open.”
To that end, openers are welcome to call Braun to help, he said.
Of the season, Homan added, “Back in the day, a lot of people depended on Peconic Bay scallops. It was a North Fork staple that disappeared in the 80s. This,” he said, “is money in the pocket.”
Riverhead fisherman Gary Joyce said despite problematic winds off Orient on Monday that kept the crowds down, the yield was worth what turned out to be a long day. “Checking around, we thought it would be good — and it was.”