Back to Back Issues Page
Gathering mussels in the Mississippi River
August 10, 2023

You’d think it was easy to gather mussels from the Mississippi River but it isn’t.

A couple weeks ago my grandchildren & I & son & daughter-in-law were mudlarking on the river near where a ferry ran in the 1800’s. Mudlarking is just looking for old stuff in the mud.

Clark’s Ferry was established by Captain Benjamin W. Clark in 1833. For a number of years it held the distinction of being the most noted ferry between Burlington and Dubuque. Indeed, one writer went so far as to state that it was "the most convenient place to cross the Mississippi”. His first payment was a bolt of calico cloth from French fur traders.

My daughter-in-law found a gorgeous large mussel with brilliant purple inside. We ended up dissecting it to show the kids the inside.

I went back to the river a day later and walked around a tiny island near the shore and picked up my 24 limit of mussels in one easy go. It was a perfect spot because I could see them just there in the shallow water. Spots like that are very rare. Normally mussels like to hide in the mud. I wish I could do that every day

Since I want to get mussels growing in our pond I put them in there to multiply.

Want to go “musseling” on the river?

First you need a fishing license or be younger than 16 years old. Finally I was informed that at a certain age you can get a lifetime license, which I appreciated learning because I was buying a new one each year!

Next you need to know the limit, which here in Iowa is 24 mussels per day.

Thirdly, a few guidelines such as endangered mussels cannot be gathered. So, which are endangered? In Iowa there is the sheepnose mussel and the spectacle case mussel.

Oh and if there are zebra mussels attached to any mussels you find they need to be scrapped off before transporting.

Do you find mussels? I’d love to hear about it.

Happy mussel hunting!

Thanks for being a part of Karipearls.

I appreciate every one of you.

God bless,


Back to Back Issues Page