Gathering abundant Manila and native littleneck clams doesn’t require much gear and they can be found on many Puget Sound and Hood Canal shorelines. (Photo by Paul Kim)

Clamming on Washington’s beaches is fun for everyone and a year-round affair

In Puget Sound, Hood Canal and the coast there’s a plethora of delicious shellfish species to discover! In this first of a four-part weekly series, we’ll dig into Manila and native littleneck clams

Where and how to gather clams

“Steamers” or littleneck clams can be taken at mid to high intertidal beach in gravely areas mixed with mud and sand. If you visit the beach during a big low tide (minus-1.5 feet or lower) you will want to dig higher on the beach than the tide line may suggest.

Know Before You Go

1. To buy a license go to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) licensing page.

Gear List

Always dress for unpredictable weather. Layers are best. A pair of knee-high rubber boots will make most areas accessible. Wind blocking layers are recommended.

Caring For Clams

How to purge “steamer” littlenecks: Purging clams involve soaking “steamer clams” (Manilas and native littlenecks) in cold seawater to allow them to clear their tissues of sand and grit. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to add cornmeal unless you enjoy the taste of soggy cornmeal in the stomachs of your cooked clams. We do not recommend purging any clams except Manilas or native littlenecks.

Prepping Shellfish To Eat

An informed harvester has better success in the kitchen. While you can take anything you dig within legal restrictions on public tidelands, learning species identification will help you be more adept at targeting the things you want to cook and eat.

NEW! Cornucopia Of Shellfish Recipes

We are lucky to live in Washington where you’re able to forage delicious, healthy seafood from publicly owned tidelands.

Links To Resource List

Harvest Seasons and DOH harvest advisory status



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.