Razor clam season on the Washington coast begins in October and goes to March and sometimes April. Digging razor clams is exciting and can be done by just about anyone. Here’s how you get started:
Find out when the dig is happening
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) schedules and approves clam digs. The beach right below Seabrook is Mocrocks beach and the beach south of Seabrook off SR 109 is Copalis Beach. For best results, clam digs begin about an hour before low tide.
Get a license
What you wear to dig clams depends on the current weather conditions on the beach, which can transform within minutes. Gear from head to toe can include hats (waterproof, warm), scarves (wrapped to not dangle), coats, jackets, parkas, hoodies (and sometimes just a t-shirt), gloves (waterproof, grippy, warm), jeans (cuffed, rolled), pants (durable, waterproof), hip waders, chest waders, socks (long, warm), boots (rubber, waterproof, warm), and/or shoes (durable, preferably not new). Red Cedar Surf, Co. and Tides by Seabrook are a few options for gear.
The debate always ensues whether to use a shovel or cylinder clam gun to best dig clams. Either and both work well (although, besting competitions have broken out amongst families and friends). Buck’s Northwest rents/sells both shovels and clam guns, clam bags, nets, lights, and headlamps. Buck himself offers guided clam digging experiences on Mocrocks beach below Seabrook. Guided digs begin 2 hours before low tide.
To dig clams using either a shovel or cylinder clam gun, watch these videos from the WDFW, Digging Razor Clams in Washington or Digging Razor Clams with Kids in Washington. Buck’s Northwest website also has good information on what to look for and how to dig.
Know your limit
Under Washington State law, diggers are allowed 15 razor clams daily and must keep the first harvested regardless of size or condition. For more information, see WDFW razor clam regulations.
Here’s a great, quick-watch YouTube video on cleaning clams, How to Clean Razor Clams. To freeze razor clams, let the clean clams cool for a few hours then put them in recycled glass jars or vacuum-seal and freeze. Front Street Market has clam cleaning stations outside next to Seabrook Cottage Rentals.
The traditional way to prepare razor clams is batter up with flour, crushed crackers, and egg wash then pan-fry in butter. Yummly, allrecipes, and Betty Crocker websites have tasty recipes, along with WDFW Razor Clam Recipes submitted by fellow diggers.
10 FACTS TO SHARE
- Razor clams are named for their slender shell that resembles the handle of a straight-edge razor.
- Clams and their relatives (oysters, scallops, and mussels) first appeared on earth about 510 million years ago.
- Razor clams move up and down vertically in the sand up to a foot per minute. They cannot move horizontally along the beach.
- Razor clams eat tiny plants and plankton filtered from the surrounding seawater.
- Wines that pair well with razor clam dishes are Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne, or a sparkling white wine.
- One 4 oz. serving of razor clams contains 84 calories.
- Washington State has actively managed the recreational razor clam digging since 1929.
- Approximately 2.3 million razor clams were harvested in Washington during the 2017-2018 year.
- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife co-manages beaches north of Grays Harbor (Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch) with coastal tribes that have fishing rights. These include the Quinault Indian Nation, which has fishing rights over Copalis, Mocrocks, and Kalaloch beaches and the Hoh Tribe and the Quileute Tribe with fishing rights over Kalaloch beach.
- Washington lawmakers are considering whether to make razor clams the state’s “official clam.”
Sources: Summaries of numerous corroborative websites.