Wylie M. Abbott, Jr. and his son Jason created the Fat Duck Oyster Company to insure preservation of their family way of life. Father and son each entered the oyster business as soon as he was tall enough to reach his Dad’s culling board. They have both been at it ever since, in a family tradition tracing back untold generations of their Native American heritage.
While involved in wild fisheries, and believing traditional oystermen and aquaculturists must work together, the Abbotts find increasing regulations and weather fluctuations make dependence on natural oyster bars precarious. Both methods of harvest are compatible, as proven by the fact that Jason’s great-great-grandfather built a private oyster bed on bottom leased over a hundred years ago from the State of Maryland. Great-great-grandfather’s creation is still productive and in family hands. In fact, it is not far from Fat Duck’s modern operation.
Wylie and Jason were both born and raised on Elliott Island, surrounded by water famous for its ideal balance of flavor-infusing fresh and salt water. Elliott Island lies at the confluence of the Transquaking and Blackwater Rivers with Fishing Bay and Tangier Sound. These blending waters may well be the most pristine in the state, relatively free of agricultural runoff, shipping traffic, pollution, and urban development.
Starting with twenty cages in 2017, Fat Duck oysters were an immediate hit with discriminating consumers, who appreciate the flavor and uniformity of a product grown with the Abbotts’ personal attention in the fabled waters near Elliott and Duck Islands. In 2019 Fat Duck’s nursery produced millions of oysters that are growing in hundreds of bottom cages and approximately a thousand floaters.
The Abbotts aim to provide the savvy oyster-lover with a perfect dining experience. Fat Ducks combine the natural flavor imparted by the waters of Fishing Bay and Tangier Sound with the uniformity of cultured oysters coddled with daily oversight.
Shipment of their product can be arranged, but the primary company goal is to become one of the biggest growers in Maryland.