Foraging for shellfish is a super fun and delicious outdoor activity.
Mussels are easier to get, I think. A low tide, just a garden glove and a bucket & you're good to go, there's a ten pound limit per day. Best to avoid the ones clung down near the bottom sandy part, as they tend to be sandier. For clams you'll need a shovel & a bucket, for those a total of 50 each is the limit. Here are some great details on clamming.
Gather mussels along the California coast from November 1 to the end of April. Clamming is year-round in Northern California, though the most popular periods are during the late spring and summer when the lowest tides of the year expose tidal flats for a few hours at a time. This is a fun thing to do while camping because they are pretty easy to cook.
Here's the skinny: first call 1 (800) 553-4133, the Department of Health Services “Biotoxin Information Line” to make sure there is no issues when & where you want to go. Then 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, then following the limits / rules just gather away!
To de-beard & clean mussels here's some great detail.
Mussels or Clams Bordelaise
This is my favorite go-to recipe for clams or mussels. A soup spoon or a warm crusty loaf is pretty imperative for soaking up those juices. Scrub your shellfish clean & de-beard mussels. I like to add shrimp to the pot, but thats totally optional. Remember the rule; if they don't open up, toss them out, they are no bueno.
Sauté a few minutes in a large soup pot with a lid; 1/4 cup olive oil or butter
Add these ingredients, cover and leave it on high until most all pop open, about 6 minutes;
4 cloves garlic 1/4 bunch Italian parsley, chopped + additional to serve pepper to taste, NO SALT (they have enough naturally) 1/2 bunch fresh basil or thyme (optional) 1 cup white wine 2 halved, squeezed and tossed in whole lemons + 2 to serve 3 lbs. (2 qts) fresh clean mussels or clams
1 lb. shrimp (optional)
Ladle into soup bowls & top with the pan juice ands additional chopped parsley and lemon halves.
We hope to see you out there~
Lucas Oliver Oswald & Lynette La Mere, Pure Joy Catering, Executive Chef