Bucket List Activity: Razor Clam Digging in Pacific County

Jan 8, 2024 | Family Fun, Outdoors

If we had to pick a symbol representing our shores, we’d likely fly the flag of our shellfish. Unique, multi-faceted, and forever linked to the ocean, our clams, crabs, and oysters are icon-worthy. When razor clam digging days are announced, our beaches become magnets to thousands of dutiful diggers around the region. Searching for these subtle, slightly blade-shaped delicacies is considered one of the ultimate Pacific Northwest experiences. Add razor clam digging in Pacific County to your bucket list, and prepare to play hide-and-seek with these tasty treats.

Razor Clam Digging

What are Razor Clams?

The razor clam is a stealthy shellfish of the coastal underworld. Unlike its cousins, the hard-and-soft-shell clams, our coveted razor clams have an elongated shape with a soft body that extends beyond their fragile shells. Experts at digging, these clandestine sea creatures bury themselves like a secret in the wet sands close to the shore. Their amber-hued armor can grow up to six inches and harness a morsel so desired that people come for miles to try and capture them. With tender, sweet, and delightfully chewy meat, the Pacific razor clams are among the most coveted shellfish on the coast.

Where Can You Find Razor Clams?

You can find razor clams buried on sandy beaches from California to Alaska. Lucky for us, our 28 miles of shoreline are the ideal location to pull your limits. Because razor clams burrow on beaches exposed to low tide, Long Beach is a prime spot for razor clam digging in Pacific County. The massive stretch from north of Cape Disappointment to the mouth of Willapa Bay is one of the largest harvesting areas in Washington.

It’s important to note that razor clam digging happens throughout the year but can only occur during approved times. Always check the dates before heading to the beach.

Razor Clam Digging

How do you Spot Razor Clams on Pacific County Beaches?

On approved digging dates, grab your gear and head to the water’s edge during low tide. Experienced diggers know that razor clams tunnel on the edge of the surf. Our razor clams are shy, but they leave behind a few clues to their whereabouts if you know what you’re looking for. Start by thumping the wet sand as you walk along the beach. The clams will startle and create impressions on the shoreline. Keep your eyes peeled for these “clam shows.” When the clam has started digging into the sand, you’ll see telltale impressions on the surface, so look for dimples, doughnuts, or keyholes.

Dimples

Eagle-eyed diggers will recognize the coy, quarter-sized dimple of the razor clam. A slight, round depression in the sand suggests a happy clam below the surface.

4. Razor Clam Digging - dimple - credit Robyn Unruh

Image Courtesy of: Robyn Unruh

Doughnuts

As the name suggests, a razor clam doughnut looks like a sandy snack. Round, raised edges surround a small hole or depression, resulting in a doughnut-like mound on the beach’s surface.

Keyholes

A keyhole appears as a more defined burrow. Unlike a dimple, the keyhole is a distinct hole that occasionally resembles an hourglass.

Whenever you see a clam show, position your digging tool slightly off center of the impression. Due to their shape and spout, razor clams are not always directly under the hole they leave on the surface. Because the clam’s shells are so fragile, you can crack them if your tool accidentally makes contact. Every clam you dig counts toward your allowance for sustainability purposes, even if you break the shell.

Razor Clam Digging

What Do You Need for Razor Clam Digging in Pacific County?

For a successful razor clam-digging in Pacific County, you’ll need a few key items:

Shellfish License

Federal and state laws require a license for anyone over 15 who is clam digging. There are maximum daily limits to the number of razor clams you can harvest, regardless of size. Current limits are 15 clams per person.

Razor Clam Digging

Razor Clam Digging Tools

Razor clams are fast burrowers, so the quicker you dig them up, the easier it is to catch them. To make the process smoother, have the proper digging tools. You’ll need a razor clam shovel or razor clam tube. A clam shovel has a narrow blade at an offset angle from the handle, giving you better leverage than your standard garden shovel. Clam tubes (also known as clam guns) are long tubes made of stainless steel or plastic. They use suction (and your leg strength!) to pull up the cylinder of sand that the clam is hiding in. Each option has a devoted following, but beginners lean toward the clam tubes. Either way, you’ll also need a mesh bag or bucket to hold your briny treasures.

Razor Clam Digging

Ideal Razor Clam Clothing and Accessories

Depending on the time of year you’re digging, you’ll want to dress accordingly. Razor clam digging is wet work, especially in the elements. Layered clothing that is appropriate for the season is encouraged, along with a raincoat. You’ll kneel on damp sand, so hip waders or waterproof shoes and pants will provide extra coverage. And a pair of rubber gloves to safeguard your hands will prevent wayward cuts.

During the fall and winter, digging typically occurs in the evening, so adding a headlamp or lantern will provide the lighting you’ll need to see the telltale clam shows. We highly recommend having a change of clothes and a thermos of warm coffee waiting for you in the car to toast your successful razor clam dig in Pacific County!

Razor Clam Digging

Staying Safe While Razor Clam Digging in Pacific County!

It’s essential to stay safe while clam-digging! Things to keep in mind while on the beach:

Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean

Because clam digging happens on the shoreline, it’s vital to exercise basic beach safety. Our shores are known for their temperamental surf. Sneaker waves are hazardous waves that can unexpectedly swell, sweeping unsuspecting beachgoers into the ocean. Keep your back toward the dunes and your eye on the horizon.

Razor Clam Digging

Watch Your Fingers!

Razor clams are aptly named, not simply because some resemble straight-edged shaving blades. Their shells are thin, brittle, and have a sharp edge, which can slice your fingers and feet. Some folks recommend wearing dishwashing gloves when digging to avoid cutting your fingers when handling them.

What Makes Pacific County Razor Clam Digging So Special

When you go razor clam digging in Pacific County, it is the experience of unearthing buried treasure. You become a proverbial pirate uncovering the jewels of the ocean. The astonishing beauty of our coastline trumps the primal aspect of catching what you eat. Standing on the shores of our ever-stretching beach, under the unyielding sky, and plucking the rare golden razor clam from its sandy slumber is a triumphant plunder you must experience at least once. With several potential razor clam digging dates on the horizon, there are multiple opportunities to embrace your inner mollusk buccaneer in the coming year. And be sure to join us for our annual Long Beach Razor Clam Festival, where we kick up the clam celebration during a full weekend of events, music, and clam fritters. See you at the beach!

Razor Clam Digging

Feature Image Courtesy of: Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer

Bucket List Activity: Razor Clam Digging in Pacific County

By: Danelle Dodds

Danelle is an international traveler, road tripper, writer, and artist. She firmly believes in testing the limits of word count, mileage, and AYCE sushi.

 

 

 

Explore more of what Pacific County has to offer.

Why We Were Voted One of the Best Coastal Small Towns

Step onto the sandy shores of Long Beach, Washington, and you’ll understand why a USA Today poll awarded us one of the Top 10 Best Coastal Small Towns. From the rugged beauty of our cliffs to the tranquility of our dunes, Long Beach captivates the senses and beckons...

Our Charming Annual Small-Town Events and Festivals

Our quaint coastal towns are home to some of the region’s most unique and charming annual small-town events. From hosting headliners, saluting our whimsical museums, and celebrating our diverse wildlife, our yearly affairs commemorate a few of the things that make our...

Your Coastal Wedding in Washington: Best Spots to Say “I Do”

There are few things more romantic than a coastal wedding in Washington. The rugged Pacific Northwest coastline is a never-ending scroll containing a love poem from nature. The astonishing beauty of our coast unrolls before you, scrawled with salty, sweet nothings and...

Fur-ever Love: Reasons to Have a Doggy Date in Pacific County

Picture the scene: You and your date are padding along the picturesque coastline of Pacific County. The salty breeze tousles your hair while waves crash against the shore. Romping at the water's edge, you turn and bend down to them, heart unleashed. Their goofy,...

Celebrate the SEA-son in Pacific County

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to be merry and bright. One of our favorite things about our coastal towns is that you can enjoy the classic holiday traditions with a little twist. Join us as we show you how special it...

Storm-Watching and King Tides: A Perfect Pair

As the winter winds blow onto shore, they bellow in another of our favorite seasons. Storm-watching in Pacific County is one of nature’s most dazzling performances, and we’re lucky enough to have a front-row seat. Crashing waves, turbulent skies, sunshine cameos, and...

Holidays at the Beach in Pacific County

The festive season is upon us! And is there anything better than holidays at the beach in Pacific County? Our small-town vibes and charming local events provide the perfect place to create new traditions. With so many exciting experiences and cozy places to fill your...

Haunt-tober Spotlight: Most Haunted Spots in Pacific County

When your shoreline is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, and your towns have some of the oldest hotels in Washington, it’s understandable that the fog between us and the afterlife can become a little hazy. Our history is rich with poltergeists with personality....

Haunt-tober Happenings in Pacific County

One of the best things about living in a small town just a day trip from Seattle or Portland is that there is always something cool to do, especially for seasonal holidays. Historic haunts are famous in our towns, so it makes sense that we’re the place to come for...

Choose Your Own Adventure in Pacific County

When planning your next escapade, you want an experience that will tick all the boxes. Choosing a perfect destination can be challenging when trying to please different personalities. Where can you get unparalleled outdoor recreation, rich history, the beach, the...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This