Razor Clamming is a favorite past time of North Coast residents and visitors. Requiring little financial investmentAQ723CPCAII7YI0CA2N30EWCASB54ZLCA79HWHZCA3GM9Q3CAF006WVCAHKYQL3CAU75Y1LCAU86F8TCA7RDB29CA7OTQ5MCAMN8DERCAXTBM1XCA3C7YTECA0NYPOTCAH4A8O8CAJHEUGICA216492 other than a shellfish license, a clam gun or shovel and gas to get to the beach, razor clamming can provide a wonderful outing for friends and family.  Scan this website to learn how to dig for razor clams and how to clean and cook them.



The clams found in the lower Nehalem river and in the bay below are Eastern Soft Shell. It is said and written in many places that they came here by hitchhiking in the bilges of the ships where they were part of the ballast that was off loaded prior to loading lumber from the mills. In the late 1880’s there were some efforts to introduce the clams with seed brought from the east coast.

The soft shell clams live in the sand and mud that exists around the islands and other beach areas along the river from just above Wheeler to the other end of the bay.

A clam shovel and a bucket or a clam net are the only tools necessary. Hip boots or waders are recommended and some caution about how far you want to venture out onto the mud is something to think about. You will find holes and the rule is the bigger the hole the bigger the clam. You can push a stick down into the hole and you will find the clam and know how deep to dig.

The clams have very soft and easily broken shells. You should dig round the clam until you can reach in to catch them in your hand. Some holes will yield more than one clam and diggers are required to take any broken or otherwise damaged clams as part of their limit.

In Oregon a shell fish license is required and the vendor can advise you of the limit.

Just like cooking razor clams, you should avoid over cooking if your are frying them and they also make very good chowder when chopped or ground.

Happy digging and enjoy your stay in our beautiful part of the world.

—  Walt Trandum, Former Mayor City of Wheeler


Below is an article describing this year’s harvest. Check with the Marine Resource Program (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/). 2040 SE Marine Science Dr, Newport, Oregon; or (541) 867-4741 for the next opening for razor clamming in our area.  Regulation books are available free of charge where angling and hunting licenses are sold.

North Oregon Coast Sees Record Razor Clams2696570582_17eeb12dc5

It all comes at a good time, just as the coast range passes are cleared of snow. Razor clams have shot up to record numbers on the north coast. The recent assessment by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for Clatsop Beach estimates them at more than nine million.

“In 2007, the Clatsop Stock Assessment estimated that there were 1,481,000 clams on Clatsop beaches,” said Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium. “In 2008 they estimated 9,257,000 clams.”

Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, called it a record number.

“It’s certainly the biggest set in a decade,” Chandler said.

2006 had around five million estimated razor clams for the Clatsop Beach cell – which stretches from Tillamook Head in Seaside to the southern edge of the Columbia River.

A “set” is the term that basically means where the creatures wind up after reproducing. This year, they happened to land in highly accessible areas of north coast beaches, instead of farther out beyond the tide line.

Chandler noted you only have two days to clam before your license is expired. You have to obtain another after New Year’s Day.A9O4LQ0CABN1Q90CACQX1N0CA2VXV53CAS2133BCA7LGWHGCAQ1AZT2CAEKF6KVCADIR7LVCALHUWI9CAV4DS6BCA59PY20CAZI476ECAKG3BYOCAATM030CAU563QXCAFLU516CAJ0VVAHCAX7C8Z8

“90 percent of the razor clams are on this part of the north coast,” Chandler said.

The ODFW’s website says that razor clams (Silqua patula) are found throughout Oregon’s ocean beaches, but that Clatsop beaches have the most stable populations because of beach stability.

For razor clams, the limit is 15. They can be taken by hand or hand-powered tools.

“Razor clams may be taken by hand, shovel, or cylindrical gun or tube,” says the Oregon Parks and Recreation website. “The opening of the gun/tube must be either circular or elliptical with the circular gun/tube opening having a minimum outside diameter of 4 inches and the elliptical gun/tube opening having a minimum outside diameter dimension of 4 inches long and 3 inches wide.”ABU5RIECAERLKZPCAD3K3HECA7TVQ2FCAL9ML8SCA8BP4G9CAKS4C8PCAW0DN22CAP3VH8ACAV8OIK1CA3QYP8FCAXK33CJCATYNLVPCA9BIU3HCAHA1AKXCAL4F19WCA92U85GCA5YSAZ2CASLWUF6

It is unlawful to remove clams from the shell before leaving the harvest area.

For bay clams, like gaper, butter, cockle or littleneck, the legal limit is 20 clams – a limit of 12 for gapers.

The taking of oysters is not allowed.

Rules do change periodically, so keep your eye on the state’s website for that as well.

Razor Clams, Oregon Coast

How To Dig
Rate of Descent and Mobility
The speed at which a razor clam reburies itself is very important to the clam digger. The faster the clam descends in its burrow, the harder the clam digger has to work to extract this tasty bivalve. The speed depends on many things: temperature, consistency of the sand, and the size of the clam, for example. Razor clams are “cold-blooded” organisms. Low temperatures make the clam sluggish and slow; warmer temperatures make them faster. In March and April, razor clams near the surface tend to slow down, due to the cooler spring temperatures. Mobility increases during July and August.

Size plays a part, too. One investigator found that a young, small clam could rebury itself in seven seconds. Another researcher found that the razor clams he studied could dig several feet deep at nine inches per minute. One of the fastest rates of descent reported was one inch per second (but the clam could not sustain this rate for an extended period of time.)

Razor clams move by extending their foot (digger) into the sand below their shell, then flattening out the tip of the foot like a rivet head. The clam then pulls itself down to its anchored foot. Because this is their method of movement, they are able to move faster in soft, wet sand near the water’s edge than in the dryer, packed sand farther from the water.

How to Catch a Razor Clam
Razor clams are found by the hole left on the sand surface as the clam’s neck is withdrawn. When this “show” or “dimple” is found, a scoop or two of sand is dug away beside the dimple and the clam is found by reaching into the sand in the side of the hole. Be careful not to dig too close to the dimple or the clam will be damaged.

Almost all clams with broken shells will die, therefore diggers are required to retain all razor clams re- gardless of size. Clams with broken shells are slightly harder to clean, but their eating quality is not affected.

Most clams are dug with special narrow-bladed clam shovels. These shovels are available in most Alaskan hardware and sporting goods stores. Clams can also be dug with a “clam gun” or “tube”. This is simply a 4- inch diameter pipe or tube with a handle and a small air vent at the closed upper end. Digging is done by pushing the tube down over the clam dimple with a rocking motion. The air vent is then blocked with a finger or thumb and the core of sand, with the clam enclosed, is pulled up and dropped on the beach. Guns do not work well on beaches containing significant amounts of gravel or rock.

Using the Clam Gun

1. Place the tube over the “show.” Check the impression of tube in the sand to center the clam.
2. Work the tube in carefully with an up-and-down, rocking or twisting motion. Place finger or thumb over air vent, pull up. Remove the core of sand holding the clam. Do this in two or more stages if desired. DON’T HURRY!

Dry Digging with the Shovel

1. Insert shovel 3 to 6 inches from the “show.” This distance depends upon the length of the blade and the amount of “hook” it has.
2. Remove sand with a lifting motion. Try twisting the shovel at the same time. Note that the blade remains nearly vertical.
3. Succeeding shovelfuls expose the clam enough to reach down and remove it by grasping the neck or shell. Note that the shovel remains away from the clam.
4. DON’T pry back on the handle. This cuts off the neck or smashes the clam. Broken clams and excessive haste can cause cut fingers.

Cleaning Razor Clams

1. The clam meat is shucked with a sharp knife by cutting the connecting muscle to each shell.
2. Remove entire clam from the shell.
3. The black tip of the siphon, or “neck”, is removed.
4. Insert the scissor blade through the siphon and split.
5. The paired gills and palps are removed with two cuts.
6. Remove the muscular digging “foot”.
7. Split the foot.
8. Finished clam “steaks”.

Cooking Razor Clams
Most diggers prefer to fry razor clams, and razors make excellent chowder stock. To fry the clams they should be breaded with flour or cracker meal and cooked in an extremely hot skillet or deep fryer. For tender, succulent clams, cooking time should be limited to one or two minutes. Additional cooking time will cause a loss of flavor and the clams tend to become tough and leathery.

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