Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Nov 23, 2008 04:58 PM

Mussel rocks near Monterey Bay or vicinity?

I'll be in the area for the holiday. Friday and saturday will be minus tides, good conditions for harvesting wild mussels. Any spots you can point me to? I called the harbormasters in Monterey and Moss Landing today, and they suggested I check out Pacific Grove.

More about musseling

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I would try the rocky areas across from the PG golf course on Ocean View Blvd. I believe it is illegal to harvest sea life in Asilomar State Park/Beach so I would try the area between where the southern boundary of the golf course is, up to Lover's Point.

    4 Replies
    1. re: gmk1322

      Thank you. I found a map of protected areas on the Fish and Game site, and it looks like all of Pacific Grove is out for harvesting.
      I've been reading more about poaching in tidepools as I've tried to find a spot and it sounds like the populations of many kinds of invertebrates not just mussels have been taken a big hit in PG.

      So now I'm wondering where else I might look around Monterey Bay.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        It is hard for me to tell from the MLPA map you linked, and I know the boundaries for no take have been expanded recently, but you might want to call the Monterey Harbor Master or F and G or otherwise try and figure out if the restricted zone includes Wharf II (the old Fisherman's Wharf). If not, you might be able to get some mussels off of the wharf pilings there. The mussels are there, I just don't know if they are restricted and whether they are close enough in that you could get them without a wetsuit. I actually sort of doubt if they are. I've seen them when diving there, but while it is shallow far out, I've never paid much attention to exactly how shallow. Also, pay attention to conditions there: it is usually very flat but can be a bit ugly after a storm (just before a storm is much better).

        My recommendation before seeing your link from dfg would have also been Pacific Grove....or McAbee (the beach below El Torito) but it looks like that is off limits too. Sorry, I don't know Marina or Moss Landing well, though I don't recall any rocks there.

        Will keep an eye out on my next trip and see if I come up with any other ideas.

        1. re: susancinsf

          I talked to a friend who lives in Carmel Valley who dives around here. She said that I'd need to head south of Point Lobos. I also called Fish and Game to speak to a warden. He advised that Monterey to Moss Landing was all dunes. He said that I would find some legal mussel rocks south of Malpaso Creek, which is south of Point Lobos and Yankee Point.

          Tuesday afternoon I took a drive over the coast to check out Malpaso beach. This is a gem of a sandy beach with some caves and rock formations accessed by an unmarked trail from the Carmel Riviera neighborhood of luxury beachfront homes. In the light sprinkle, I had to jump across a narrow stream and avoid some blackberry brambles and poison oak to get to the sand. Tuesday's tide was only -0.4', so I couldn't get out to the far rocks without getting wet. However, the ones high above the tide line had a few dime-size mussels (and many other kinds of critters) attached to the seams in the rocks. I bet that there are larger specimens further out that could be accessed during a lower minus tide.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Two weeks later I went back to Malpaso Beach during a very low minus tide. The mussels I found were still quite small. Here are photos of the beach and mussel rocks,

            I had a chance to visit the beach just south of Yankee Point accessed via a private gate. No mussels to be found there either, but some incredibly dramatic tide pools and vistas compensated. The handful of mussels I'd collected at Malpaso would have made a puny supper. So instead I decided to leave them on what looked like a viable rock here in hopes of starting a colony. Here are my shots of Yankee Point,

    2. Pretty much anywhere there are manmade breakwaters, maybe up towards Marina or Moss Landing?

      5 Replies
      1. re: araknd

        Hey cuz! Yeah, I was hoping someone could tell me about some mussel-covered riprap. Anyone familiar with the area around Elkhorn Slough, Marina or Moss Landing? Looks like the best day will actually be Wednesday (tomorrow), not Friday. Would be great to have another course for the Thanksgiving Day table.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I suggested Moss Landing as they most likely have the riprap at the breakwater of the channel. Moss Landing's on either side of the harbor entrance and the estuary of Elkhorn Slough, it should be accessible from the beach side.

          1. re: araknd

            Thanks, I did put in a call to the harbormaster's office again. Spoke to a different person and he seemed somewhat dubious that mussels collected from the harbor channel waters could be safe to eat. I talked to the two places in Moss Landing that sell fishing licenses: one said that there are some mussels on those rocks at very low tide and other said there were none and that I'd have more luck heading to Davenport for mussels.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              When I was a kid, we spent nearly every Sunday year-round at Scaroni's near Davenport (now Red White & Blue nude beach). Weekly family trips there date back to 1920's, but not since Katie S sold the ranch in the 60's. You'd have to pay to get in now, but there used to be some righteous mussels on the rock outcrop below the cliffs at the north end of beach. Table Rock reef is just of the south of Scaroni's beach, but don't know how accessible it'd be.

              Check coastal water charts for likely rocks, or check the coastal records project website photos for likely areas, then scout at low tides. There are state angling access points along the coast that might lead to likely spots.

              I have to say that most of the good spots are likely well-known to scavenging locals and non-local poachers and marine mammals who have probably kept them pretty well picked over.

              I remember 4-5" mussels back in the 50's. Cooked 'em in tin cans of seawater over a driftwood fire. Heaven!

              Good luck on your quest.

              1. re: toodie jane

                Thanks for sharing that. I think that the Monterey Bay sites are probably too convenient for the nearby populace and picked over. On the SF board, Sushi Monster said that Pescadero beach mussels were slim, and that's what I found at Malpaso (see posts above). Guess I'll be going back to my rocks in Sonoma County which are further away from where people live. Having seen the rocks around Carmel where gathering is allowed, I am even more grateful for our marine sanctuaries to try to preserve some of our wildlife.

                I have talked with old timers in Sonoma County who remember the big mussels they ate as kids. Said they were meaty and steak-like. Have also heard about catching salmon by using a pitch fork to scoop them up out of the water into the boat.

                This weekend will be a really low minus tide again. A rare opportunity to explore.