Learn to Clam in the Bay Area

Here are the techniques and gear you will need to harvest what i’m sure will be a “limit”. I normally do most of my clamming in Charleston which is very close to Coos Bay, Oregon.

Please obey are Oregon Laws governing the harvesting of Clams. There are signs posted most everywhere you can harvest clams. On average, each person is allowed twelve clams of each variety, but if you go as a “team” then the team is only allowed twelve per team. Now let me share with you some of my Clamming Techniques. Follow these and you are sure to get your limit anytime you go.

First, and foremost get yourself a good pair of rubber boots, preferably insulated. You will also need a rather heavy duty shovel, some 1/2″ dowels and a bucket. Please look at the photographs on my clamming photograph page to see just what you will need. The dowels are used to mark the spots where you find the clams (they are often grouped rather closely together) so it’s helpful to “mark” your spots first and then start digging.

Try to dig on the “ocean” side of the clam “show” and dig down just below the depth at which your dowel hits the clam shell. The largest clams will be found in the kelp beds – a rake is often helpful to find them. The larger clams, such as the gapers and the Horsenecks-Empires (named after the town of Empire which is very close to Coos Bay and North Bend, Oregon) have a very long neck, up to 2 feet.

The hole will be about an inch wide – just stick your finger in the hole and feel for the neck. Once you touch the clam’s neck the clam will draw its neck down into its shell. That’s when you’ll want to mark the spot with your dowel. I find it much easier to mark all the clams in the area and then go back and dig them. Yes, it does take some work but once marked they surely won’t move, just be careful not to break their shells while you dig them up. Sounds simple right? Well it is. The best time to go clamming is about an hour before low tide (refer to the tide chart). Good luck. Please be sure to check the regulations concerning the limit. I then bring them home and soak them in fresh water (that draws out the necks).