How to Dig for Razor Clams

Are you new to the world of razor clams?

Want to get in on the action but have no idea what you’re doing? Here’s what you need to know.

What to bring:

  • Shellfish/seaweed, combination, or Fish WA fishing license: required for all diggers 15 years and older. Must be on your person when you are digging.
  • A clam gun or clam shovel: Usually a clam gun is easiest for beginners.
  • Gloves: to avoid cutting your hands. They’re called razor clams for a reason!
  • Mesh bag or bucket: mesh bags are great because they allow water to escape and they won’t float away with the surf.
  • Hip or full waders: to keep yourself warm and dry on the beach
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See more maps on our website at wdfw.wa.gov.

1. Pick a beach. Razor clams are mostly found along the southwestern coast of WA on Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis Beach, Mocrocks, and Kalaloch. Though the drive is long for many that visit these beaches, razor clam digging is great family activity! Make sure you bring your family and friends along with you.

You’ll want to check the WDFW website for the dates that beaches will be open for razor clam digs. You can find that information here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/razor-clams#beachmaps

2. Find a clam. You’ll want to know how to identify where a clam is beneath the sand. A “clam show” is an indicator — usually a hole or dimple — that a clam creates when its withdrawing its neck or digging. If you’re having a hard time locating clams, try pounding on the sand with your shovel or foot — they’ll often squirt water out of the whole where they’re located!

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3. Dig, dig dig! Razor clams are notoriously fast diggers, so you’ll want to be ready. The technique you use differs depending on what tool you are using to harvest.

#TeamClamShovel

If you’re digging with a clam shovel, you’ll want to place the blade about 6” away from the clam show on the side closest to the water with the handle pointed towards the shore. Push the blade deep into the sand, careful to keep the blade vertical so you don’t break the clam’s shell. It’s usually easiest if you drop to one knee at this point, since you’ll want to start scooping out sand until you can find the clam’s shell with your hand.

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Technique is everything when it comes to shoveling!

#TeamClamGun

If you’ve decided to use a clam gun (tube) to harvest your razor clam, the process is a little simpler. Place the open end of the tube over the clam show and angle tube so that the handle is closer to you and the bottom is slightly towards the water. Then, push the clam gun into the sand, twisting and wiggling if you need. Place your thumb over the air vent at the top of the tube (the small hole) and pull straight up using your legs, not your back. Release all sand onto the beach, sift through to find your clam, and voila!

Here’s a helpful video that demonstrates each of these methods!

Now let’s get digging! Be sure to let us know on social media which method you prefer. Are you #TeamClamShovel or #TeamClamGun?

Written by

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

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