With two coastlines, Long Island is well known for its shellfish and prized clams. Most of these clams are harvested by clam diggers on the south shore bays. Some of the types of clams you can find in Long Island are soft shells, razor clams, and hard shells.
Can You Go Clamming on Long Island?
Yes, clamming is a popular activity on Long Island, New York, and can be done all year round.
When clamming around Long Island, follow the guidelines and restrictions set by local authorities, harvest clams within legal limits, and avoid disturbing sensitive habitats.
Do You Need a Permit to Clam on Long Island?
Recreational shellfish diggers and clammers in New York State are not typically required to hold a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). However, they are subject to daily harvest limits for each type of shellfish.
I advise recreational shellfish diggers to check with their local town or municipality regarding any specific permits or regulations for shellfish harvesting. Local towns may have their own additional requirements, such as permits or restrictions, that should be followed.
Best Places to Dig for Clams on Long Island
Long Island offers several excellent locations for clam digging on the east coast. Here are some of the most popular clamming spots on Long Island:
1. Great South Bay
Great South Bay is known for its abundant clam populations, including hard clams (littlenecks, cherrystones) and softshell clams (steamers).
Areas such as Patchogue Bay, Moriches Bay, and Bellport Bay are popular for clamming.
2. Peconic Bay
Peconic Bay, located on the North Fork of Long Island, is another productive clamming area. It offers a variety of clams, including hard clams and softshell clams.
Areas such as Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, and Shelter Island are known for their clamming opportunities.
3. Shinnecock Bay
Shinnecock Bay, located near Southampton, is a prime location for clamming. It is known for its hard clams and softshell clams.
Popular clamming spots include areas near Shinnecock Inlet and Tiana Bay.
4. Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay, located on the North Shore of Long Island, offers opportunities for clamming. It is known for its hard clams and occasionally other species like softshell clams.
5. Moriches Inlet
Moriches Inlet, located between Moriches Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is favored by clam diggers. It provides access to clamming areas with hard clams and is known for its productive clam beds.
It’s important to check with local authorities and familiarize yourself with any specific regulations, closures, or restrictions in the area you plan to dig for clams. Local town regulations, shellfish hatchery closures, and shellfish harvesting restrictions may impact the availability and accessibility of certain clamming areas.
Additionally, tidal conditions and recent weather events can affect clam populations and the ease of clam digging. It’s advisable to consult with local fishermen, experienced clam diggers, or the local town clerk’s office for the most up-to-date information on the best clamming spots and current conditions in Long Island.
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What Types of Clams Can You Find on Long Island?
When it comes to clams, several types can be found in the waters around Long Island.
Here are some common types of clams you may encounter:
1. Hard Clams
Also known as littleneck clams, cherrystone clams, or quahogs, hard shell clams are one of the most popular and commercially valuable clams in the region. They have a hard shell, a sweet and savory flavor and are commonly enjoyed steamed, baked, or in chowders.
2. Softshell Clams
Softshell clams, also known as steamers or longnecks, are another common type of clam found on Long Island. They have thin shells that are easily broken, hence the name “softshell.”
Softshell clams have a tender and sweet taste and are often steamed or used in clam bakes.
3. Razor Clams
Razor clams are elongated clams with long, thin shells resembling razors. They are known for their distinctive shape and can be found buried in sandy beaches and tidal flats.
Razor clams have a delicate flavor and are often enjoyed sautéed, fried, or in seafood stews.
4. Mahogany Clams
Mahogany clams are deep-water clams that can be found off the coast of Long Island. They have a dark brown or mahogany-colored shell and are known for their sweet and tender meat.
Mahogany clams are often used in gourmet seafood dishes or enjoyed raw on the half-shell.
5. Atlantic Surf Clams
Atlantic surf clams are larger clams commonly used for processing into clam strips or minced clam meat.
They have a pale-colored shell with distinct ridges and are usually harvested offshore in deeper waters.
What Are the Best Clams to Eat?
The best clams to eat depend on your personal taste preferences and the culinary application you have in mind.
However, little neck clams, razor clams and steamers are generally considered the best when it comes to flavor and texture.
What Time of Day is Best for Clam Digging?
It’s recommended to dig clams during the daytime when you can see the clam beds more clearly.
Clam digging is typically most productive during low tide. As the tide recedes, it exposes more of the clam beds, making it easier to locate and harvest clams.
Also, avoid rough weather, high winds, or heavy rainfall, making digging more challenging.
What Should You Wear When Clamming on Long Island?
Wear sturdy, waterproof boots or waders that provide good traction and protect your feet and legs from water, mud, and sharp objects. Neoprene or rubber boots are commonly used for clamming as they keep your feet dry and provide insulation.
Dress in comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty. Consider wearing lightweight, quick-drying materials such as nylon or polyester. Layering is advisable to adjust to changing weather conditions.
Wearing gloves will protect your hands from cuts, abrasions, and the cold water. Choose gloves that are water-resistant and provide good grip for handling clamming tools.
Wear a hat with a brim to shield your face and eyes from the sun.
Apply sunscreen to exposed areas of skin, even on cloudy days. Choose a waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply as needed.
If you plan to venture into deeper waters or use a boat for clamming, consider wearing a personal floatation device (PFD) for safety.
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