Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Clamming in and around Ocean City, MD
Clamming in and around Ocean City, MD

“Let’s go clamming!”

You’re drifting around on your boat. It’s getting to be low tide. It’s hot and the fish quit biting. It’s a good time to go clamming! Yes, low tide is when you want to go clamming and if you look around, you can see how many sandbars and shoals are exposed at low tide. All you have to do is bring your boat close to one of the bars, anchor it in the shallow water, jump out of the boat and look for clams.

In Ocean City, MD vacationers are allowed to keep 250 clams each as long as they are 1-inch in size. No license is required to go clamming in Ocean City, MD.

I have just one small word of warning if you wade in warm water on the bars in the summer time. Spray your feet and legs with bug spray and/or suntan lotion. There’s some kind of microscopic mite that can break you out, similar to chiggers, in the warm pools of water. Not fun! Also, if you are walking in the water where it is too deep to see the bottom, wear water shoes or old tennis shoes. In the back bays, watch out for sea nettles.

“I didn’t bring a clam rake!”

I’ve caught many a clam in my life with my index finger! A dull fillet knife works wonders too, creating a makeshift clamming prong. Walk on the wet sand of a sand bar or in the shallow water where you can see the bottom. Look for little holes that look like “key holes” in the sand. Slip the knife, finger, stick, ice pick or real clam rake next to the hole and see if you feel something hard. If so, dig down, and hopefully it’s a clam. Where there’s one clam there are usually more. Clam holes can look like key holes, worm holes and sometimes just indents. On an outgoing tide, clams holes can look like a spot of darker mud sitting on top of white sand. On an incoming tide, clams can be seen actually siphoning the water. Look for water squirting out of the underwater ground. It’s likely a clam.

“Don’t be fooled by razor clams!”

Razor clams have real big holes, squirt streams of water, and go down very deep. It’s impossible to catch them most of the time. Regular clams are usually just an inch or so down into the sand or mud. Like fish, you can find them on ledges of inclines. Just think about the water at high tide. The clam is moving along in the current, then when the tide falls, the clams fall over a little sand bar lip and plunk! It stops, and then it digs in.

If you have a rake, so much the better! Look for the holes and dig. Or you can blind rake. Blind raking is more like work, but can be very productive as long as you are in a “clam happy” area. I like to drag the rake behind me until I hear a “clink” and then stop and dig some more, pulling the clams up in the basket of the rake. Remember, where there’s one clam, there are more. I have one of those floating livewells with a Styro-ring that holds up a mesh bag. I tie the rope around my waist and drag it along behind me in the water.

Keep your clams clean. While on the boat, fill a 5-gallon bucket or cooler with water and let the clams purge themselves. The little clams are especially tasty if they do not have sand or grit in them. The small clams you can steam and eat. The larger clams you need to open and make chowder, fried clam strips or stuffed clams.

“Where’s the best place to clam out of a boat?”

In Ocean City, the big bar just north of the Route 50 Bridge has plenty of clams on the north and northwest side of it. Lots of people call this Bird Island because it is also a bird sanctuary. There are signs around the perimeter of the island that warn you to stay away from the nesting birds, so you need to anchor your boat away from the island and wade in the water for the clams.

The best way to get to the island is to travel north in the East Channel and turn left at the northernmost end of the island and u-turn around the west side of the island. It’s deep right next to the land there. It’s like a small channel. Then carefully ease towards the sandy beach until you are in shallow enough water to jump out and anchor the boat.

Some vacationers like to clam on the island just offshore of Sneaky Pete’s and Hooper’s Restaurant. There’s also a pretty good clam bed just offshore of Bahia Marina at 22nd Street.
Behind Assateague, on the southwestern side of the Verrazano Bridge, is good for digging clams. The water clarity here is not much for signing! There are clams on most of the bars from Buoy #10 to beyond the Verrazano Bridge. All of the dry sandbars behind Assateague are "bird sanctuaries" so you will have to anchor your boat in shallow water and clam.

“Where can I clam from the shore in Ocean City, MD?”

When it gets to be low tide you can walk out to the bar behind Convention Hall at 41st Street.
The National Park on Assateague Island has two clamming areas. Travel down Route 611 to Assateague. Make a right and go into the National Park. You have to pay to get inside the park. You will see the signs for the parking areas that have little clams drawn on them.

The State Park on Assateague Island also has clamming, but it involves a walk. You have to park in the parking lot on the west side of the bridge going into Assateague and walk over to clam on the east side. There's no parking on the east side and clamming is not allowed on the west side. On a west wind, take bug spray!!!

The Isle of Wight has some clams too. Go to the public area off Rt. 90. Walk east back towards Ocean City to the corner of the bridge span and the rocks. Go there at low tide and wear long pants, as there’s sea nettles in the back water areas.

Clamming is fun and something different to do!

Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and co-owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 01:21