Razor clam digging on the Washington Coast is a family affair but not always for the faint of heart! Those hidden creatures hang out below the surface of the sandy beach along the water’s edge, furrowed away leaving only a tiny hole to signal their existence to the world up above.
Clam tides are announced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, typically in the spring, fall and winter. Those clams like it cold! So you’ll have to brave those low temperatures if you want to catch your limit.
Preparing for the Dig
To get started, you’ll need to confirm clam tide dates and grab a shellfish license. There are three day passes and annual license options. The clam tide announcements typically name a time, such as 7:03pm (evenings in winter and mornings in the later spring). This signals high tide, so you’ll likely want to be there about 2 hours before the listed time.
You’ll need a few tools to get the job done. Depending on your preference, a clam gun or a clam shovel. You’ll also need a bucket or cooler to carry your clams home. Some other handy accessories are some good quality gloves to keep you from getting cut by the razor edge of the clam while digging, a headlamp or lantern for those night-time digs, and a netted clam bag to wear as you dig.
Got all the stuff and I’m on the beach, now what?
You’re looking for dimples in the sand, a bit smaller than a dime, along the edge of the tide. From there you can either use your clam gun or shovel to dig in! If you’re using the shovel method, prepare to get a little messy since you’re probably going to need to get down on your knees and throw a hand into that hole to pull the clam out.
A few legal reminders
You are limited to the first 15 clams you dig, regardless of size or condition. You break it, you bought it!
You need to take the whole clam home with you – no removing the shell while you’re on the beach.
Each digger 14 years and older must have a shellfish license, their own container and dig their own clams.
Check out this handy pdf from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for detailed digging directions and guidelines!