Clamming in Seaside

April 27th, 2009

Back when my grandparents owned the beach house at Neskowin, there was a strange collection of narrow shovels and aluminum cylinders in the garage. I was told these were tools used to extract clams from the sand down by the surf line, but I don’t recall anyone in the family ever using these odd items for their intended use. So it was a curious moment last week when Joel emailed to see if I wanted to try clamming over at Seaside. For whatever reason, this stuck me as something I really needed to try, so I went out and bought one of those narrow shovels and spent a whopping $6.00 on an annual shellfish licenses.

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Joel and I had trouble rounding up other like minded adventurers, but Damon, who is always up for a fishing or fishing-like trip, decided to join. We made it to Seaside around 7:30 AM or so and headed out toward the surf after squeezing into our waders. Joel picked the day because it was a minus tide, which means vast stretches of the beach were exposed. Seaside was a strange sight to see. What looked like hundreds of people were fanned out as far as the eye could see. And then were the thousands of mounds of sand, where clams had (hopefully) been dug. We walked straight down from the Promenade and started digging where we thought a clam tell had been. Joel and I just started digging at a furious pace, excavating a very large hole. By now, nearby clammers were laughing and some begin yelling comments like “are you boys digging to China?” Clearly, our technique left much to be desired.

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Fortunately, an older Hawaiian lady on a rusty bike rode up and asked us if we needed help. We soon learned from other diggers that she’s a regular on the Seaside beach and is universally referred to as “Clam Annie”. With Annie’s coaching and some stainless steel clam guns, the three of us start to get the hang of things, and in no time we’re pulling razor clams from the dense sand at a quick clip. One of the hardest parts of clamming is avoiding damaging the shells, which are surprisingly thin. According to other clammers, you have to keep damaged clams, so we had to adjust or aggressive technique a bit. With the assistance of Annie to two other older women, we were able to limit out in about 30 minutes or so. The limit is 15 clams, which is more than enough for a decent meal.

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Back at Stacy’s later in the day, I went through the messy task of shucking and cleaning the clams. It wasn’t quite as bad a task as I expected, but I didn’t expect they would still be alive. Boiling water was used to kill the
clams and open the shells and from there it was just a matter of pulling the body apart from the shell. With scissors I cut the head from the neck and then pulled the lungs and foot away. You can eat the cleaned foot, but to save time I skipped this part. Stacy made a tasty batter and we fried everything up last night. I’m not a shellfish fan, but these clams were really tasty.

For video footage of us in action, go here

Entry Filed under: Randomness

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