If you’ve been anywhere along the Oregon Coast, you’ve probably heard a lot about clamming. But you might be wondering why it’s so popular among natives and visitors. Clamming is appealing to many Oregonians and visitors because it is relatively easy and the reward is a tasty treat best served in chowder, steamed or fried. There are no special skills required, no expensive equipment, and beginners can usually pick it up quite easily.
The low tides commonly found from Empire to Charleston make our region one of the top destinations for clam digging. Around here, the most popular clams are bay clams, which include gaper clams, butter clams, cockles and littleneck clams.
Local bait and tackle shops are usually the best resource for first (and second, third, fourth) time clammers and can usually advise on conditions, regulations, equipment, etc. Some businesses, like Basin Tackle on Kingfisher Road in Charleston, even offer classes on how to use a clam pump and clean the clams. (They’ll even share secret recipes!)
Ready to give it a shot? Here are some more tips for first-time clammers:
1. Get your shellfish license.
Clams can be harvested all year on our coast, but ODFW does require a license. Click here to get your license.
2. Make sure it’s safe.
Occasionally, clamming on the Oregon Coast is closed due to a temporary rise in biotoxins in ocean water. Check the Oregon Health Authority website or call the hotline at 1-800-448-2474 to find out about any shellfish closures.
3. Wear waterproof boots (trust us).
Just take a look at the photos and you will see the necessity of waterproof boots. Otherwise, you may lose or ruin your shoes!
4. Dress in layers!
It doesn’t matter what season it is, it can get chilly out there! Dress in layers that can get dirty.
5. Go to a bait and tackle shop before you head out.
Some of the best advice you will receive will probably come from one of the fishing experts at one of our local bait and tackle stores. They can tell you when the best time of day to dig would be based on the tides. They can also help you make sure you have the right equipment, including a bucket, a shovel (can be rented or borrowed) and/or a tube a.k.a. a "clam gun."
6. Keep track of how many clams you dig.
You are allowed 20 bay clams per day in the aggregate, only 12 of which may be Gaper or Empire clams. Click here for ODFW's Regulations Summary for Marine Shellfish.
7. Watch this tutorial and learn from the pros!
Watch this informational video to learn the basics:
Lower Coos Bay - Map & Species
The lower bay (from ocean entrance to the airport) is “marine dominated,” meaning there is little freshwater influence, which makes for some of Oregon’s most productive shellfishing opportunities.
Charleston Area - Map & Species
Clamming in Charleston is excellent throughout and access is easy. Rental shops are close by to help those new to clamming gather the right gear and find the best spots.
Oregon’s Adventure Coast is not just known for great clamming, but excellent crabbing. No trip is complete without Dungeness crab, and the best crab are always the ones you bring up yourself from the waters of lower Coos Bay. Learn more about Crabbing on Oregon’s Adventure Coast »
Fishing opportunities are in no short supply here. There are fish for every season and an endless choice of prime fishing spots to select from.Visit our Fishing page for information on charters and more! »