How to Build an Oyster Dredge

by A. Scott Walton ; Updated March 16, 2018

An oysterman harvesting his catch

Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Dredging for oysters can be an enjoyable form of aquatic recreation. Once harvested, oysters are quick and easy to prepare for consumption. But dredging for oysters with the intent of a high-volume harvest is an occupation best left to professionals. The practice requires advanced navigation skills, a high-powered boat capable of venturing safely onto shallow sea coasts, and a strong dredging apparatus capable of “raking” oyster without anchoring the boat to the ocean floor, or snapping and sinking under the weight of the debris dredged up and harvested. Multiple trial-and-error instances both in construction and application may be required to achieve desired results.

Oysters do not swim; they cling to sediment formations on the seafloor. Rakes and nets dragged near the surface of the water will not help to harvest them. Select drag line long enough for the dredging conditions applicable, and strong enough to tow your dredging apparatus as well as cleave oysters from the sea floor. Apply guidance from local conservancies, expert navigators, sonar equipment, or printed depth charts to determine the length of tow rope recommended.

Secure your winch to a solid boat surface. Winches can bolted to the deck of the boat, or hung from support beams attached to the side(s) of the boat.

Firmly affix one stabilizing “guide” bar to the top (nondredging end) of the net; preferably with U-bolts for strength and flexibility. Loop U-bolts through the netting and over the bar, then secure with locking nuts.

Firmly attach one stabilizing bar to both the bottom (dredging end) of the net and the top (nondredging edge) of the “rake”, with the gathering tines of the rake facing away from the net opening. Loop U-bolts through the netting and over the bar, then secure with locking nuts.

Use a rope or cable clamp to connect the trailing end of the dredge cord to the raking apparatus securely. Finally, tie and wind the lead end of the dredge cord to the winch before lowering the apparatus into the water.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

A. Scott Walton began his journalism career in 1985 at the "Nashville Tennessean." His reports have extended to radio, television and the Web and he has written extensively for the "Detroit Free Press," the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," the "Atlanta Voice" and many other publications. Walton holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Vanderbilt University.