Today was another beautiful day on Kentucky Lake. It started out on the cool side, but quickly warmed up with the clear skies and bright sunshine. The water level on the lake is still at the low 'winter pool' level. I took advantage of this to walk around and pick up shells. I was surprised when the first place I checked turned out to be loaded with 'washboards', the largest type of freshwater mussel shells.
During the boom years of the 90s and early 00s, washboards were selling for between 4$ and 9$ a pound depending on size. Most of the ones I found today would have easily sold for the high dollar mark in those days. I ended up with 203 washboards, that is 5 -1/2 buckets or over 250 lbs. I also harvested over 200 lbs of lake mix: three-ridges, maple leafs and pig-toes. This haul ten years ago would have brought over $2,000.
I also did my part for the future of the mussel community by throwing the smaller shells into deeper water. These small shells would be killed by the ice in the winter when the lake freezes over. They migrate into shallow water in the summer and then are left stranded when the lake levels drop in the fall.