Written by Werner Athlete Michelle Learned, photos by Jason Learned

If someone were to ask me what I look forward to the most about overnight sea kayak touring in the Pacific Northwest, I’d have to say:

1: Breathtaking scenery

2: Incredible marine life and…

3: Phenomenal FOOD!

Yes, what is going to fuel me through the days and miles of paddling and on particularly challenging days what is the thing I can look forward to as I push through the sometimes endless miles? Since moving from my home in the Mid-West, I have become beyond spoiled with the abundance of available seafood available to us on our kayaking journeys. No granola bars or premade boxed meal tightly packed in the hatches of my kayak can compare to the flavors of the ocean.

Manilla and varnish clams boiled to perfection. No salt or seasoning needed!

Foraging for food has become a part of both our day and overnight tours whether we’re cooking on the bar-b-que in our backyard or over the campfire. It’s a good feeling knowing we don’t have to go hungry if a bear decides to take off with our food cache and it adds an exciting element to any length of journey allowing you to develop an intimacy with the land as you return time and time again to harvest the ocean’s delicacies.

Michelle stoking the coals for freshly caught fire roasted salmon wrapped in bull kelp.

Werner Paddles Cyrpus AKA crab scooper with athlete Jason Learned

Crab, oysters, and muscles, OH MY!

Somewhat unappealing, yet succulently sweet sea urchin.

Before you decide to begin foraging, there are a few things to keep in mind. Always obtain proper permits and licenses for the area you’ll be in. Pay close attention to advisories and beach closures due to potential rising toxicity levels. Practice good stewardship and harvest sustainably ensuring more to come for future generations. Finally, use guidebooks and consult locals as resources for collecting and preparing food, or better yet, go with someone with foraging knowledge to avoid an unpleasant experience.

Mmmm…bull kelp! Michelle’s favorite.

Photo credits: Michelle and Jason Learned


Broken Group/Deer Group Vancouver Island: BC, Canada

Toleak Point: WA Coast

Deception Pass: WA