If you haven't been mussel foraging, it's easier than you think - I guarantee it. All that it requires is a little bit of forethought, gloves, and a bucket. The last time I went to Baker Beach in San Francisco and there were tons of mussels clinging to a few rocks and our buckets were filled in no time. Yes, the mussels can be a bit rugged in texture, but believe me, they're worth it! Here's what you need to know and do before you forage mussels in California:
- Only go during the months from November to April. From May to October mussels are quarantined due to potential paralytic shellfish poisoning - not something you want to mess with.
- Call the California Shellfish Biotoxin Information Line at 1-800-553-4133 to double check that waters are safe at the time that you plan to go (sometimes the quarantine for longer periods depending on weather and water conditions).
- Stop by a drugstore and pick up a one-day fishing permit or purchase one online from the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife and bring it with you, otherwise you are subject to fines.
- Go at low tide: Foraging mussels is best at low tide and mussels can often be found clinging to rocks near the water.
- Mussels can only be pulled by hand, do not use other instruments, such as screwdrivers or crowbars.
- Bring: Thick gloves, as the mussels can be sharp and a bucket, to hold your booty.
- There is a collection limit of 10 pounds (in the shell) per permitted collector per day.
For more information about regulations, visit the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife.