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Oystering in Washington State

Craig and Denise introduced us to oystering on July 4th, 2004.  We headed out with Mei, Brian, and their kids, Carolyn, Dan and their kids, and Craig's daughter, Brianna to the endless oyster beds of Oysterville, Washington, located on the Long Beach Peninsula.  We made our way down to the beds from the parking lot, a short walk, and Carolyn got us all off to an interesting start with two successive wipeouts in the mud, with Denise putting demonstrating amazing agility in her diving save of 7-month-old Milo, who was riding on Carolyn's shoulders!  Sandra, for some unknown reason, thought that bringing her new leather purse out onto the mud-filled oyster beds to catch and shuck oysters was an excellent idea. 

As we waded through the muck, Nicolas watched his white shoes turn black, while Denise and Brianna found that flip-flops might not have been the best choice in footwear for wading through mud and crunching over razor-sharp oyster shells.  Craig led the way, and gave us all a little lesson on how to shuck oysters, and supplied the gloves and screwdrivers to do so.  We were struck by the awesome quantity of oysters that existed in the mud flats.  There were millions of them, just waiting to be eaten!  We couldn't even take a step without steppin on several of them.  We picked a bunch of good ones, and went to work.  Dan started things off with our first casualty, cutting his hand on one of the wickedly sharp shells while collecting.  During the course of events, most of the rest of us joined in with cuts over our unprotected hands, either from the screwdrivers or the shells. 

Bronwyn got stuck in the mud, and had to be pulled out, but other than that, we all collected our limits and called it a successful trip.  The purse made it through intact and clean, as well, to all of our amazement.  We all waded back through the muck and mire to the car, as the tide started coming in.  Once back at the lot, Brianna and Denise washed their mud-caked feet in the sink, while the rest of us cleaned up and wiped mud off of our gear.  We sped back to Denise and Craigs house in Naselle to clean and barbecue our catch!  With Mei's wonderful jalapeno sauce, and Craig's expert barbecuing, we all had a feast. 

Rules and Regulations for Oystering
(Updated 7/2004 - Check for Changes Before Oystering)

Licensing: Oystering in Washington State requires a shellfish license, which runs $10.95 annually for Washington residents, and $25.19 for non-residents, plus vendor fees if you buy it at an outlet like G.I. Joe's or Fred Meyer.  You can also get a 2-day combination fishing/shellfish license for $6.95.  

Season:  Usually all year for Pacific Oysters on the ocean beaches, but check here for exact locality seasons before oystering.

Limit: 18 per person, per day.  18 per container.

Size:  2 1/2 inches, minimum.

Other:  Must be shucked on the beach.  It is illegal to take oysters in water deeper than two feet. Leave shells at the same place and tide height where they where collected.

Tips and Tricks

Finding Oysters:  Click here to find prime oystering beaches in Washington State.  Once at the beach, walk out onto the rocky area or mud flat, depending on your beach, and you'll see millions of them.  They are everywhere you look.  Make sure to go at low tide.

Equipment: Make sure to wear gloves, especially when shucking.  The shells are very sharp and will cut you.  You'll want rubber boots for the mud and water, and a bucket to sit on while shucking.  You'll want another container for putting the oysters in, and you'll have to have your license.  Don't forget a knife or screwdriver to open the shells!

Shucking:  Once you've found some good ones, insert the screwdriver into the slot between the upper and lower shells.  Don't be afraid to push hard.  Once it's in, twist and the shell will pop open.  If not, pry on the shell, and move it around the side of the shell, prying until it comes open.  Put the oyster in the bucket, and discard the shell on the beach.

Washington Oystering Information

Oyster Recipes

(Click Thumbnails Below for a Larger Image)

Craig Gives Shucking Lessons Sandra Hunts for Oysters (With Her Purse On!) "Wow!  There Sure Are A Lot!"
"I Found a Good One!" Sandra Works at Shucking the Oysters The Group Hard at Work
Denise Washes Brianna's Mud-Caked Feet and Legs   "Now It's My Turn!"


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