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I want to go clamming. Where? How to?

“I want to go clamming!”

I love to go clamming, especially in the summertime when you can walk around
in the water without waders and cool off on a hot summer day. Your chances
of catching clams are much increased if you have access to a boat, but there
are some places you can reach some clams from shore.

“Where can I go from shore?”

Starting from the North, you can go to "Holt's Landing" which is a very
good clamming area. It is part of the Delaware Seashore State Park and is
located off Rt. 26. You go north into Delaware to Bethany and make a left
on Rt. 26. Follow the signs. You make a right in Clarksville and follow
the signs. Visit the Fenwick-Bethany Chamber of Commerce to get a map before
finding this area as it does involve a little trip into the country.

(You can also clam around the Cape Henelopen Pier in Lewes. You have to pay
to get into the Cape Henlopen State Park.)

Some people clam just south of the Indian River Inlet, but you must park on
the side of the road and walk across the marsh. Always clam at low tide.

In Ocean City, people find clams in the bars just offshore of Convention
Hall at 41st Street. At low tide, you can cover quite a bit of territory.
Vacationers say they have the best luck walking north once in the water. Of
course, you can walk out across the marsh at any location, but be careful.
Green marshes usually have areas that are quite muddy. You can find yourself
up to your knees in soft mud!

There are three clamming areas on Assateague. The first one is in the
State park. One has to park on the west side of the bridge and walk or bike
over the bridge and clam on the east side. There is no parking on the east
side and that's where the clams are! (What many people do is get someone to
drive them across the bridge and drop them and the clam rakes off. Avoid
clamming there on a west wind. Those biting flies and mosquitoes can carry
you away on the west shore of Assateague!

The other two clamming areas are in the National Park. After crossing over
the Bridge going into Assateague, take a right and go to the National Park.
Pay $10 to get into the park, and you will see the two areas for clamming.
You need to walk out into the water chest deep at the lowest tide and rake
in these areas to find the clams.

When you are walking out into the water digging for clams, you will find,
that just like fish, clams tend to congregate in one area. When you find one
clam there are likely to be more. Feel the bottom and rake in areas of soft
sand or mud. You usually don’t find many clams in the grassy bottom. You
shouldn’t dig up the grass anyway.

What I do is drag the rake behind me and let it dig into the underwater sand
on it’s own. When I hear a “clink” I go back and dig it up to see if it’s a
clam. After you have clammed for a while, you will be able to “hear” the
difference of the sound of hitting a clam verses hitting a shell or other
piece of debris! Once you find one, dig around in earnest in that area. You
are likely to catch more. Just like fish, where there’s one there’s more!

“I have a boat. Where can I go?”

If you have a boat and clam in Indian River Bay there is an abundance of
clams. Clamming on and next to the sandy bar near South Shore Marina is a
great place to go. Just offshore of Holt’s Landing State Park is another
good area.

In the Ocean City bay, the clamming is very good on the sand bar just
offshore of Brachia Marina at 22nd Street. Many vacationers rent a boat for
a couple of hours and clam there.
The large sand bar just North of the Route 50 Bridge holds lots of clams as
well. They aren’t on the north end of the island though. Most of the clams
are on the southwest section of that bar. Stay just offshore of the bird
sanctuary signs. Some anglers call this “Bird Island.” If you have a larger
boat it is best to come around to the island from the East channel. It is 4
or 5 feet right next to the southern most end of the green island. Come
around the west side of it and head towards the sand bar. Anchor anywhere in
there, hop overboard, and walk towards the sandy bar. There are clams all in
there if you want to start raking as soon as your feet hit the bottom!

There are clams on the sand bar just offshore of Hooper’s Crab House just
North of the Route 50 Bridge. There’s not as many as on the other islands,
but it is a quick hop, skip, jump for the boats docked at Hooper’s.

Clams are abundant in the bay behind Assateague as well. Anywhere around the
big islands offshore and west of buoy #10 and buoy #13 are clams. There aren’t
many clams on the bar just east of #10 however. Anywhere south of the
Verrazano Bridge that you can anchor up, jump out of the boat, and start
clamming will get you some clams. Many clammers go just south and west of
the Bridge and clam there. We tried that a couple weeks ago and found plenty
of clams there is waist deep water. Offshore of the Old Ferry Landing Road
(National Park of Assateague) is good for clamming.

There are no sand bars to walk on in the bay behind Assateague, as
everything seems to be a bird sanctuary. Just anchor up in 3 feet of water
or so and hop out of the boat and start digging. Some clammers actually
feel for the clams with their feet if they are in soft sand or mud. I wouldn’t
do it with bare feet though. I would use a pair of water shoes.

In Ocean City and Indian River bay you can actually get close to the sand
bars at low tide and walk in the water where you can see the bottom.
Sometimes you can clam where there is no water at all. If you can see the
bottom you can do what people call “signing.” To “sign” a clam, you walk
along and look for a “keyhole” in the sand. It’s hole in the sand that
resembles a keyhole in a doorknob. On the incoming tide the clams will
sometimes spit up water when you walk near them. They are really easy to

On the outgoing tide, they are not as easy to see. Sometimes the keyholes
aren’t very pronounced and look like a dent in the sand. Sometimes the clams
can be found by digging over black spots. (They dug in on the incoming tide
and the darker mud below came to the surface and is sitting there on top of
the sand.)

“What can I put my clams in while I’m clamming?”

A bucket, a mesh beach bag or chum bag works fine. Some people fashion a
bushel basket inside an innertube. Some tackle stores sell a really neat
thing for holding clams. It is called a Flo-Well Live Well that is a nylon
mesh bag with a drawstring and a Styrofoam ring sewed into it so it floats.
It is also fashioned with a sturdy rope so you can tie it to your waist and
tote it along behind you as you clam. I’ve had one of these for years! I
love it for clamming!

“What kind of clam rake should I buy?”

There are many different kinds of clam rakes. My favorite is the Down East
clam rake as it is made in the USA, is forged instead of pinned for a longer
life and has sharp tongs. The sharper the tongs, the easier it is to dig!
You can buy clam rakes with a basket for finding small clams. You can buy
3-piece clam rakes for traveling which is quite convenient. The wooden
handles are more comfortable to use, but they are one piece!

I always purge my clams for a few hours before cooking them.
Just put them in a bucket of fresh seawater or fresh water with some salt
added if you are home. This flushes the sand out of the meat if you caught
them on a running incoming tide.

Good clamming….

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 01:20