Blue Mussel - Mytilus Edulis
Blue Mussel - Mytilus Edulis - is also known as common mussel. There are several, very similar, subspecies which can hybridise with each other, if present at the same location.
They are spread around the world from temperate waters to polar regions, on both hemispheres.
Blue mussels live in intertidal areas attached to rocks and other hard substrates by strong thread-like structures. The shape of the shell is triangular and elongate with rounded edges, with mostly dark blue color.
For recreational fisherman, mussels are important for several reasons:
- mussels are great bait - there is almost no fish that will not bite into it's flesh. Problem is that mussels' flesh is very soft and tender and can be stripped from the hook by just few bites of small fish. For some species, whole mussels are used - using sharp knife, mussel is carefully opened, to the width of hook and then the is hook gently inserted into the mussel. When fish finds such mussel, it crush it with it's teeth and hopefully swallow the content of a shell - with a hook. Species that are commonly hooked this way is Gilthead Seabream (Sparus Auratus) and similar species that feed on molluscs.
For fishing, mussels' flesh can be salted - put cleaned mussels into the strainer, add plenty of salt and leave it that way for 30 minutes. After that, put everything into the plastic jar, ad some salt more and put it into the freezer and store it freely for weeks, even for months. When going for fishing trip, just take the jar with you and defrost it on the way. Salted mussels are much tougher and smellier than fresh ones - very good qualities for a fish bait :)
- mussels are delicacy - when cooked properly, mussels are fantastic - their taste, aroma, fragrance is superb. On the other hand, mussels filter sea water and can be loaded with toxins and heavy metals - avoid using mussels picked from harbors and similar areas. Although they can be consumed even raw, due to possible bacterial content, eat them cooked.
- frozen mussels can be used both as bait or as food. If you are using them as food, you will notice difference between fresh and frozen, so, if possible, always eat fresh (but really fresh) mussels. As bait, frozen mussels are little bit tougher than fresh ones.
- fresh mussels are easily picked from rocks during low tides. If the sea is heavy, be very careful and wary of incoming waves. If you want to keep them alive for longer period of time, put them into the net or plastic bag with plenty of holes and keep them in water - this way they can live practically indefinitely and can be used as needed.