Home Fishing Tips & Advice How to Rake for Clams

How to Rake for Clams

You either love clams, or you don’t. If you do, you have a great passion to the point you have no issue with digging around in the deep depths of the sandy beaches to search for them.

Typically, when the tide is low, and the waves go out, the clam-made holes are revealed to show those raking exactly where they need to convene. If you want to participate in the process, each state and locale offers its own set of regulations, meaning you need to check with your specific area to determine the set rules, related fees, and licensing guidelines. In most areas, these will be based on the abundance of shellfish and health.

Once you have your license, or ideally prior to, it’s critical to research the digging process and learn where you should look for the clam flats so you can successfully rake. There are states restricted to diggers for a variety of different reasons, some of which include bacteria, biotoxins, pollutants, and in some cases, conservation.

Where Do People Go To Dig For Clams?

Clam digging is an activity enjoyed in North America along the coastal regions. Most people typically use ‘garden-type’ tools or rakes to harvest the shellfish from their hideaways below the tidal sand (or mud) flat surfaces that serve as their homes. Raking as it’s also known is done either recreationally or commercially. Those who operate commercially are known as ‘clammers.’

A majority of people who engage in ‘raking’ do so to source food with the shellfish offering a very distinctive taste. Some merely participate as a sporting activity donating their game so it can be used efficiently.

What You May Not Know About Raking Clams

Clams are colorful underwater shellfish who burrow under the ocean to create a home. Clam digging can be done in a variety of ways and on various levels depending on your passion and your purpose. Some people wander solo on a quiet early morning, and others choose to travel in teams taking it a little more seriously. A few things you may not have been told when you inquired as to how to rake for clams include:

  • The Tide: The claim is that the very best time for raking is when the tide is low. More specifically, it needs to be approximately an hour prior to this when you will get prime picking. The conditions deem much easier for people to work in, and it’s relatively simple to get tide information for the area you intend to scope out.
  • The Equipment: Different people will opt for different types of equipment to do their digging. Usually, it’s gardening-type tools such as rakes, durable shovels, a dowel which can be either wood, metal, or plastic comprising a cylindrical pin. Since you’ll be walking along the shoreline, rubber boots will help keep you dry.
  • The Location: A majority of towns will have designated spots marked where the activity is allowed, but you may find it quite helpful to speak with those local to the area for advice. Once you reach the water, the suggestion is to seek out spots where there are vegetation and beds of sand. There will be no claims where there are rocky surrounds. 

Clams are not solo creatures. They travel in groups. Once you are fortunate to come upon one, you will find many near the same location.

  • Breathing Spaces: Finding claims can be relatively simple when you are aware of what to look for. There will be small holes throughout the sand or mud, which the clams use to breathe. These generally form a “U.’ A trick to ensure there is a clam under the surface is to stomp close to the spot to try to initiate a squirt. It will happen if there is one under the hole.
  • Digging Down:  The clam won’t just pop out for you. You will need to do a bit of work to get it out. Often it takes going down approximately 6″ and in some cases, depending on the type, 12″. It’s an effort and a process but definitely worth the work.

How Does The Infamous “R” Rule Affect Clams?

There is common folklore that travels throughout surrounding shellfish, and it happens to include clams. The fundamentals state that you should only indulge in these foods during months having the letter ‘R’. In following this rule, you can dig and enjoy as much as you want from the month of September on through until April, but as soon as May arrives, you need to stop until September comes back around.

In the beginning, the ‘tale’ limited itself strictly to oysters, but over time, it spread to include the entirety of shellfish. Many theories are in existence as to where it started and what exactly it means to those who have a passion for seafood.

  • Red Tide: The most compelling of the ideas is the ‘Red Tide’ theory, which typically occurs throughout the summertime. With these conditions, there is a high algae concentration which presents toxicity to humans. People can become seriously ill by consuming shellfish that have this toxin absorbed into their orifices. It’s referred to as PSP or ‘paralytic shellfish poisoning.’

The levels are carefully watched, with harvesting being banned when there is a high reading. There is also an increase in inspections and testing for these toxic levels for the fish regularly.

  • Summer Spawning: Another speculation is the fact that these creatures will spawn during the summer with a rest needed in order for them to repopulate. After spawning occurs, the fish have a different flavor than throughout the rest of the year, which for most people, is off-putting.

When harvesting, you may choose to ignore this fable (or is it fact) and continue with your dig, or you may choose to wait until the fall to resume your hobby. If you’re at a restaurant or market where clams are offered, it’s wise to inquire whether the products are wild or farmed, if they’re spawned, and allow them to help with any concerns regarding the safety of the shellfish.

Do Clams Actually Spit?

There note to be videos you can find on the web of horse claims that can spit excess water that surrounds them up into the air. Typically speaking, clams gather grit and sand in their shells due to the nature of their homes beneath the sea, and this is what they’re known to spit. Many people offer a vast array of different techniques on how to get a clam to spit the sand. The ones you find in the market will already be purged, so attempting this will be a waste of your time. The only ones you need to worry about are the ones that you rake yourself from the beach. 

Truly the single most crucial component and really the only one necessary to purge a clam notes to be seawater for nearly any type of clam. Be forewarned that freshwater will kill a clam, making them inedible. Also, shock can kill them, meaning, the water needs to be of a consistent temperature. A clam will acclimate to changes in temperature relatively well. 

Leave them just overnight, too long will suffocate the shellfish. Restrict the amount to only approximately 50 in up to 3″ of water in a covered container. The sand spitting will start reasonably quickly. Without a lid, the debris will get all over the area where you place the shellfish.

Aside from the entertainment factor that these creatures provide, they are a delicacy unlike any other shellfish producing the purpose of people opting to clamor around in the sand with their rakes digging mercilessly and yet strikes an absolute passion for these very same people.