Tips for Clam Digging

Clams being rinsed with water in a bowl.

Clam digging or harvesting is the work of getting these colorful underwater shellfish from their homes where they burrow under the sea. There are different levels of clam digging with some doing it for sport and others as a source of food, privately or commercially. The last variation is beyond the scope of this article. You can choose to go out clam digging alone or as a team. There are several factors that will contribute to a great clam harvest.

Low Tide

The best time to go clam digging is when there is a low tide. Actually, at approximately an hour before low tide you should get great results. This makes sense considering the equipment and gear used. It will also be a lot easier for you to work in these conditions. Get tide information for the area you plan to dig in.

Equipment Needed

You will need a strong sturdy shovel, a bucket to place your clams in, a rake and a dowel, which is a cylindrical pin made of metal, wood or plastic. A pair of insulated rubber boots will also prove very useful. In some situations you could use a pitch fork, especially where there maybe some obstruction to easy shoveling.

Best Location

In regard to finding the best spots for clam digging, start with the traditional method of asking local people. In most places there are also clear signs of areas in which clam digging is allowed. Once in the water, concentrate on the areas with some vegetation and a sand bed. You will not find any clam in rocky areas. Once you are able to locate one clam, there will be many more around the same area as clams prefer to be in groups close to each other.

Know the Regulations

As you go out clam digging it is important to make sure that you have the proper permits and are familiar with the regulations that govern clam digging in the area you wish dig in. These regulations include clam sizes allowed for harvesting, periods when clam digging is allowed and the kind of equipment you can legally use to dig clams. It is also critical that you establish if clamming is allowed in the area as it is completely outlawed in some areas.

Look for Breathing Holes

To find clams, look for small holes on the mud or sand. These are generally the clam’s breathing hole. The holes are often shaped like a U. Almost all kinds of clams will leave a small hole on the mud making it easier to find them. However, you may need to dig them out a little bit faster to avoid the tide, water or sand from covering up the hole. To identify if there are actual clams beneath, stomp near the holes and see if there will be a squirt of liquid. If there is, then there is a clam beneath the hole.

Dig a Little Deeper

Although clams can be found in muddy areas, freshwater or saltwater areas, you do need to do a little work to dig them. Once you have located an area where there are clams, dig about 6 to 8 inches from the top to get the clams. Often times, clams will burrow deeper into the mud. A razor clam will often dig at least 12 inches below, only extending its neck.

You're all set to go clam digging. These tips are sure to bring results.