Welcome to Mussel Beach

Outfitted in surfing wet suits, a couple of beachcombers collect mussels on rocky headlands around Fishing Rock State Park, a mile north of Depoe Bay. (Photo by Rick Beasley)

GLENEDEN BEACH — As you explore the plentiful rocky headlands that interrupt the windswept beaches of Lincoln County, you’re likely to encounter one of the tastiest and most-easily harvested sea creatures at the beach: mussels.

They can be found anywhere the receding tide has exposed those sharp tidal rocks in places such as Fishing Rock, Fogarty Creek State Park and Roads End in Lincoln City. The limit is 72.

According to the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, there are two species of mussel at our doorsteps: Bay mussels which are bluish-black and grow to about three inches in length, and California surf mussels, which are brown or black and grow to about seven inches long.

Mussels often inhabit boulders in the upper tidal zone so it is best to go looking for them during low-tide. Mussels won’t win a beauty contest, so ignore the harmless barnacles and snails they attract. A $7 shellfish license, available at any ODFW license agent, is required.

To harvest a dinner’s worth, wear a glove and use a twisting motion to pull mussels off the rocks, then immediately pull the "beard" off the bottom — the hairs that previously anchored the shellfish to the rocks. You’ll need a bucket and knife to do this bloodless job right.

Be sure to check the ODFW regulations and safety closures before heading out to harvest mussels. 

Those who like clams are likely to find these cousins of the bi-valve species just as delicious. To cook, prepare them the same way, boiled or barbecued on the grill until they pop open. Bon a’ petit!

— Rick Beasley

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