BRINNON — The Olympic Mountains and a bald eagle perched in a tall tree stood guard over a wide expanse of tideland near the estuary of the Dosewallips River.
“Welcome to my office,” said John Adams, Taylor Shellfish Farms’ Dosewallips manager.
He was talking to a group of a couple dozen people plucking oysters from the beach as part of an outdoor program on shellfish foraging with Bainbridge island Metro Parks and Recreation District and Langdon Cook, blogger and author of “Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager.”
“Digging for oysters and clams is super easy and cooking them is even easier,” Cook reassured everyone before we headed just north of the park to Taylor Shellfish property to forage.
Before you go:
To harvest clams and oysters on a public beach, you need a permit, which is sold online or at most sporting goods stores, Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart and Kingston and North Mason chamber of commerce offices. You must be 15 or older. Cost is $12 annually or cheaper for a one-day permit. How many shellfish you can harvest varies from beach to beach.
Clam Rules: Most species must be 1.5 inches wide. Fill in your hole when you’re done digging in it.
Oyster rules: Bring your shucking knife, because on public beaches, you’re required to leave the shells there (the backs of those shells are where new oysters will grow).Oysters must be 2.5 inches or larger.
Where to go: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has lists of public beaches where you can harvest shellfish. You can search by county or click on the map, then click on a beach to see whether it’s open and to find links to the Health Department for any toxin concerns.
When to go: Low tide is the best time to find oysters. Consult your favorite tide chart or try this one, which has a clickable map with links to that area’s high and low tides by month and day.