Clamming in an Oregon Bay

With the start of spring you also start getting lower tides which make for some excellent clamming.  Every bay in Oregon is home to some type of clam.  Some are more abundant then others though.  My bay of choice (because it is closest) is the Siuslaw estuary near Florence.  There are multiple types of clams located in the bay depending on what type you prefer.  Near the mouth of the river you can find the occasional gaper clam and cockles.  Farther up the bay you get into the mass population of softshell clams.  The population of soft shells in the bay is enormous.  It is considered the densest population of any bay in Oregon.  Which is why I like to go there.  The current ODFW limit is a nice 36 clams per person of the eastern softshell and 72 per person of the purple varnish clam (exotic species from Japan) I normally only see the eastern softshell but occasionally there is a purple varnish in the mud.  I honestly don’t know what I would do with 108 clams at once if i could find both.  That is a lot of shucking to do in a weekend.

Unless you like to be covered in mud a good set of waders are needed for digging for clams.  A good portion of the time while you are clamming you are on your knees digging down a couple of feet.  I have tried using a clam tube before with very poor luck.  But I might have just been in to muddy of area.  It will be worth a try to use it again in an area that has more of a sand mix.  My standby digging equipment is a small shovel and a garden spade used together.  Use the shovel to get down to the level of the clam then use the spade to finish digging without breaking the clam or cutting off its neck.  You want to dig just to the side of the clam hole so you don’t hit it.  Then run your finger down the hole until you hit the clam then pull it sideways out into the hole you dug.  The only clam we normally get to eat in this area is the eastern softshell but I added some pictures in case anyone wants to compare the two when they dig.

Softshell clam
Softshell clam
Purple varnish clam
Purple varnish clam

It normally takes less than two hours to limit out on clams for us.  Depending on how fast we dig of course.  After a successful day it is time to shuck and decide what to do with the clams now.

Even with mud and rain it is clamming with a smile
Even with mud and rain it is clamming with a smile



2 thoughts on “Clamming in an Oregon Bay

  1. Judy

    I went out today by the bridge by the casino, but I wasn’t able to get far because of sinking so far. It was a 2.6 tide. Do you have to wait for a lower tide so you can walk out there farther? Or do you sink the same?


    1. Were you on the west side of the bridge or the east? I usually go one the east side. It seems to be more solid then the other side of the river. There are some parts that are still really deep in mud. I have went almost knee deep on both sides. Neoprene waders make it a lot easier


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