Clamming in Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Gearhart Oregon: A Family Tradition
Clamming is abundant on the Oregon Coast. The State says: “All areas are open except Marine Gardens, Research Reserves, Habitat Refuges, and Shellfish Preserves. These areas have signs indicating their locations and are listed and mapped in the Sport Fishing Regulations book.”
Check the State’s website before you go, to make sure a ban isn’t in place, which does happen periodically. According to the ODFW's website: "Razor clams (Silqua patula) are found throughout Oregon’s ocean beaches. Clatsop beaches (Columbia River to Seaside) have the most stable populations because of beach stability. 95 percent of Oregon's razor clam digging occurs here.
Clamming Season begins in early fall and runs through early to mid-summer. This fishing is regulated depending on the natural toxins contained in the shellfish and is monitored by the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. Occasionally we have a natural phenomenon called red tide which will postpone the harvesting of these delicious creatures. You can read more about red tides at http://www.whoi.edu/redtide/
. To check the status of our current season you may call the Shellfish Hotline 1-800-448-2474. An Oregon Shellfish License is required for anyone over the age of 13. Licenses, regulation information and clamming gear are available at Trucke’s One Stop
on Hwy. 101 in Seaside and Bud’s Campground
on Hwy. 101 in Gearhart. The daily limit is the first 15 clams dug up.
Digging a Limit of Razor Clams: If you have a strong pair of hands and a strong will you can dig razor clams! However most people will use a narrow shovel or a clam gun.
Other standard equipment would include: rubber boots or waders and a mesh bag or bucket for holding your catch! If you want to do well arrive at the beach about an hour before low tide when we have a lower than normal tide. (Watch out for "sneaker" waves which will appear out of nowhere and sweep you off your feet. It's a good idea to wear life vests for safety). Most clammers follow the water's edge and look for dimples or holes in the wet said. This is a sign of a clam beneath. If you see a little squirt or dimple appear, that means a clam is near the surface and just sensed your movement. It is now digging deep and the race is on to catch it before it is too deep to reach. Clammers use two methods: shovels, or newfangled clam tubes - sometimes called "guns" - that siphon clams right out of the sand. Clam guns make digging razor clams very, very easy.
Razor Clamming with a Shovel: Reasons for using a shovel include: handles make good tapping tools /is easier on the back/quicker/some say you look tougher. Veteran clammers tap on the sand with the handle of the shovel creating vibrations in the sand cuing surface clams to start digging. Once the clams start digging you will see the signs mentioned above. Once a dimple is found start to dig a couple of inches away making sure the blade is going away from the dimple when penetrating the ground. After a couple good scoops reach into your hole and feel for the clam, being careful not to cut your hand on the shell.
Razor Clamming with a Tube or Gun: Step heavily to create vibrations in the sand that will cue the clams to show themselves. Once you see a dimple or squirt, quickly place the tube over the dimple and push it into the sand with a rocking twisting motion. With experience you will be able to know when you are deep enough but to start use the half-way mark on your tool as deep enough. Placing your thumb on the hole in the tube straighten your back and arms and pull with your legs to lift your catch. Hopefully a clam comes out of the sand in your gun but if not you can try going a little deeper.
License Types and Fees From State of Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife
Visit the Oregon State Dept of Fish and Wildlife Website for Detailed Information on Fishing and Hunting Regulations in Oregon
Local Businesses Offering Licences:
Bud's Campground & Grocery: 4412 Highway 101 N, Gearhart, OR 97138 - (503) 738-6855
Trucke’s One Stop: 1921 S Roosevelt Dr. (Hwy. 101 north of Avenue U), Seaside, Oregon 97138 -
313 South Roosevelt Drive, Seaside, OR 97138-6743 - (503) 738-8422
For Boat Parking or other Parking Questions: Seaside Police Department
1091 S Holladay Drive, Seaside, OR 97138 - (503) 738-6311