Oregon Razor Clams – A Guide to Digging Beach Clams

Oregon Razor Clams – A Guide to Digging Beach Clams

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up early for no apparent reason, and somehow you can tell you’re up for the day whether you like it or not?I found myself in that very situation yesterday morning, staring wide-eyed at the alarm clock at 4:15 am, knowing full well it was the beginning of my day. The day before I had asked the family if they were interested in hitting the 7:00 am minus tide at the beach for Razor Clams, but as you might guess, I didn’t have any takers. As I lay there awake, wondering what to do with my day, a plan formed; maybe my kids said they didn’t want to go, (two teenage boys who think getting up early sucks!) but I figured out a long time ago that sometimes you just have to take them anyway. They might moan and groan about it, but it seems in the end, they’re always happy they went, so the decision was made. “I’m getting them up, and we’re going clamming!”I got my clothes on, poked my head in their rooms and got them up and moving, albeit grudgingly, and went downstairs to make coffee. I’ve always liked early mornings, and my favorites are the ones where I’m preparing for a day on the water. This day was no different, and I was extra pleased my son’s were coming with me.

I went back upstairs to let my wife know our plans, and when I thought we’d be home. As you might expect, she was a bit groggy at first and unsure about what I was saying, but it suddenly became clear and she said, “You got the boys up and you are all going clamming? Well I’m going too!” And that was that! The family was going after all, regardless of what they had said the day before.

I have to admit for not having pushed hard enough about outdoor activities when my boys where younger. Nobody ever really wanted to go, and pushing everyone to do it anyway always turned the activity into a lot of work (that was generally unappreciated). I regret not doing it anyway back then, but now I’m making up for lost time. So long story short, none of my family had ever been beach clamming before. I had managed to get them out a couple of times in Tillamook bay to rake cockles, but never an early morning beach jaunt for razors. This would be a new experience for them.

We ended up not getting the early start I had hoped for when I woke up, but I also knew we didn’t have to be right on the surf line to get razor clams, so as long as the surf wasn’t way up and pushing in early we’d manage just fine.

At the bright and early stroke of 7:00 am, we finally make it onto the beach with our bags, clam guns and shovels. This time of year always brings out a fair amount of clammers, and this day was no exception, but in short order we found a stretch of beach that wasn’t overloaded, and began our search.

 

A Perfect Razor Clam "Show"

A Perfect Razor Clam “Show”

 

Using a Clam Gun to Dig

Using a Clam Gun to Dig

Finding the prize in the sand!

Finding the prize in the sand! If you look close in the loose sand, you can see the razor clam.

Retrieving the clam from the loose sand

Retrieving the clam from the loose sand

 

Even teenagers smile when they find a razor clam!

Even teenagers smile when they find a razor clam!

We walked towards the surf line, and in an area of wet sand removed from the rolling waves a bit, I started looking for shows, pounding the wet sand a bit with the butt of my shovel, and almost immediately found a couple of clam shows. They quickly turned into a couple of fresh razor clams in my boy’s bags, and maybe a hint of a few smiles as well! We found a show for my wife, and everyone was off and running, looking for there own clams and digging away.

A razor clam in the loose sand released from the clam gun

A razor clam in the loose sand released from the clam gun

The whole family enjoys digging clams!

The whole family enjoys digging clams!

 

Do you remember the first time you tried digging razors, or any clam for that matter? The first part of any hunt and gather excursion is learning “WHAT” to look for, and this trip was no different. I witnessed a lot of holes being dug without a clam at the bottom, but they were finding a few, and were super pleased whenever a “suspected” show they had found on their own turned into a clam in their bag! It was fun to watch, and all the while I kept hunting for shows myself, and calling whoever was closest over to dig the clam. I had decided from the go, 3 limits, or whatever we managed to get with 3 diggers was more than good enough, so I just looked for shows, pointed them out when I found them, encouraged, helped, and generally just enjoyed watching the world wake up from the best place on the earth, THE BEACH!

Clams, beaches and smiles!

Clams, beaches and smiles!

Even I dig a clam occasionally!

Even I get to dig a clam occasionally!

It was interesting to hear my wife comment that she was beginning to know what a clam show looked like, but more importantly, what “WASN’T” a clam show! She pointed out a few holes in the sand that had a divot of sand on one side and she said, “those are always these little shells and never a clam.” Right on! She was really starting to put it all together!

We managed to find close to 30-35 clams. I never got a total count because it seemed irrelevant. My wife had managed to find 12, and my boys had 10 or 11 each. More than enough, especially as I saw my boy’s interest begin to dwindle as the shows became less common, and we were going longer between each successful dig. The funny thing was watching my wife, who was absolutely engrossed in finding them. Both boys were ready to be done, but she wasn’t even close to giving up! What a role reversal!! We decided to look for just a few more minutes, then we started back towards the truck, managing to find 3 more on our walk back.

A successful mornings dig with smiles all around!

A successful mornings dig with smiles all around!

What a wonderful start to the my day, and in more ways than one. While it had been a bit chilly when we started with a stiff onshore breeze, the cool weather was quickly forgotten as we walked and dug. Smiles abounded, and the best news came when we got in the car when all three of my new clam digging partners all said, “That was fun!!” A great conclusion to an already fantastic morning!