Harvest Quahogs on Chappaquoit Beach

November 18, 2015

Today’s blog post comes from Lauren.  Lauren lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband Andrew. These two are always on the look out for great outdoor weekend adventures.  Lucky for us Lauren takes fantastic photographs to document their experiences.

My husband is a real cape-cod kid. When his recently-retired Father was looking for a new Father-Son hobby, the new tradition of harvesting quahogs to be a part of our Thanksgiving feast came to fruition.

We’ve dug up quahogs in summer’s past, but not in the winter, and not to the extent that a meal (ok, side dish) depended on it.

Here’s how it went down:

First, the pass and the gear.

You can get a family or individual shellfishing pass. There are all sorts of regulations to educate yourself on, but it’s pretty easy.

You need a sneaky amount of gear.

At minimum: a rake, a bushel basket and protection from the water.

To avoid buying anything extra, my husband wore his 5mm winter surfing wetsuit, and squeezed into my surfing booties and mitts. These haven’t seen a ton of action in recent years, so I was thrilled to see them put to good use. His brother and father both wore waders, to which the effectiveness was debatable, but they got the job done and borrowed other essentials from generous neighbors. Lessons learned for next time. Waterproof arm gloves (bright orange, you’ll see in the photos) turned out to be super clutch.


We ventured to West Falmouth Harbor, which is across from the popular Chappaquoit Beach. Aim to go around low tide. andrew2

Yes, it had a hood, the novelty of it was endless.


Tim, all geared up in the orange waterproof gloves, thigh-high waders and the floating clam baskets for the bounty!


The team at work: Tim and Peter were alternating with the rake while Andrew burrowed with his feet.


Each good find goes into the floating basket. The intention was quahogs, but they gathered an insane amount of oysters (free oysters!!). The work can be a bit back-breaking so 2 hours seemed to be plenty of time, considering it was beautiful, windy and cold.


The bounty! Lbs on lbs of West Falmouth Harbor Oysters.


Wrapping up.

In the end, we gathered many a dozen oysters and ‘hogs.

We had the luxury of then dealing with what to do with them after. We hadn’t really thought that far ahead (oops) so we separated them, transferred them to 2 icy buckets and transported them home. Before we left Falmouth, Andrew shucked one and we all looked at each other until he bit the bullet and shot it down. After my mother-in-law had the courage to try one next, I followed (with the help of a squirt of lemon juice) and then my father-in-law. We all survived.

All the gear can add up to be a bit pricey, but it’s totally worth it for the glory if you want to impress your friends and family with such tales of hunting and gathering.

We cooked the quahogs and froze the meat. Hung on to some shells so we can make stuffed quahogs as part of our Thanksgiving feast. More to come on that.

My husband shucked all the oysters and put them in the freezer. I am still in search of a recipe that will wow and impress everyone next week! And maybe the pretty shells will turn into something crafty.

Either way, this father-son adventure will be the talk of the table on Thanksgiving Day.


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