🌊 Delaware Clamming: Season, Locations & Licensing

Delaware is a state located in the United States of America, which took its name from the nearby Delaware River. The Delaware state is famous for its many islands and coasts that are a popular tourist attraction. These Delaware coasts, which people often know as the Delaware beaches, are a great contributor to the state’s economy, generating about 6.9 billion dollars every year.

Recommended Equipment

Clamming Shovel

Seymour Trenching Shovel
  • Length: 48″
  • Spade Width: 5″
  • Fiberglass handle.
  • Cushioned grip for improved comfort and stability.

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Clamming Gun

Murff’s Claminator Steel Clam Gun
  • Comes in 5 separate sizes.
  • Perfect for anyone 5′-6′ and up!
  • Stainless steel.
  • Barrel diameter: 5″

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Clamming Gloves

Glacier ‘Pro Angler’ Clamming Gloves
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • 100% waterproof.
  • Made of 2mm neoprene.
  • Fleece lining.
  • Sharkskin textured.

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Clamming Waders

TIDEWE Bootfoot Chest Waders
  • Sizes: 10 different sizes.
  • Chest-high waterproofing.
  • Very lightweight nylon construction.
  • H-back suspenders with quick release buckles.
  • Perfect for multi-purpose use.

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Clamming Basket

DII Stackable Metal Clam Bin
  • Size: 12″ x 12″ x 10″
  • Colors: White, Black & Bronze
  • Made of wired mesh.
  • Rust resistant.
  • FDA food safe.

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Clam Shucker

Vollrath Clam Shucker Machine
  • The Vollrath Oyster King Shucker Machine opens clams, oysters easily in a single stroke.
  • The blade is durable and efficient.
  • The machine comes with a 2-year warranty.
  • The handle has a rubber grip that makes the handling convenient.

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One of the largest activities that Delaware state is a proud host of is clamming. This is not just a local favorite activity but also brings thousands of visitors every clamming season. Now, if you live outside the US or even if you do live in the US but have never heard of clamming, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Clamming is an activity that involves collecting clams from different water bodies. These include beaches, ponds, swamps, and the like, either for fun or commercial purposes.

Children and adults, alike, love clamming and usually do it for fun while camping. But clamming is also a developed industry in states like Delaware. Hence, there is proper legislation and rules that you must abide by. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the pre-requisites to clamming in the state of Delaware.

Delaware’s Best Clamming Sites

If you’re planning a trip to Delaware and the said trip also includes a day filled with nothing but some clamming, knowing the best spots to dig for clams is a must. The following locations are the go-to spots for clamming.

  1. Woodland Beach Wildlife Area – This beach is on the Delaware River shore, just before the Delaware River starts. It has a fishing dock, which is very convenient for both catching fish and clams.
  2. Holts Landing State Park – This is the only pier built solely for the purpose of clamming. Located at the Indian River Bay, it offers an amazing view of the surrounding wildlife. Visitors can also hike, horseback ride, and engage in other fun activities.
  3. Delaware Seashore State Park – An island located between the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River Bay, and Rehoboth Bay offers all the facilities and equipment for clamming.

All three of these clamming hotspots are ideal for digging up clams both for commercial and recreational purposes.

Primary Clams Looked for in Delaware

There are a number of different clam species that exist in the Delaware waters. However, clammers consider only a few of them to be of value. One of these is the hard clam, also called the Mercenaria mercenaria. You can abundantly find it at the Indian River Bay and the Rehoboth Bay. It also holds high commercial and recreational value. The exterior is a smooth, hard grey surface with brown lines running horizontally along it. Meanwhile, the interior is white with a purple mark on it.

These clams are incredibly abundant in Delaware and have a minimum size of 1 ½ inch. Other clam species like surf clams, razor clams, mussels, and oysters are also available in Delaware, but you will find them in smaller amounts. Hard clams are generally found about 1 or 2 inches within the sand at the bottom of the water, so they require a bit of digging up. They tend to feed on algae and other microorganisms in the water using a special organ called a siphon that helps filter out their food from the water.

You can harvest these clams all year round, but you require a fishing license to calm them in Delaware. You can dig up to 100 hard clams per person if you’re a Delaware resident and 50 hard clams per person if you’re a visitor.

Legal Size Limit for Clams in Delaware

The state of Delaware has a strict law. This indicates that possession of any clam taken from Delaware state waters, measuring less than 1 ½ inches, is unlawful. Also, when a large number of clams are collected, the total number should not contain any more than 5% clams that are less than 1 ½ inches in size.

Approved Number of Clams to Keep in Delaware

To go clamming in Delaware, you will need a recreational fishing license that allows a resident of the Delaware state to keep 100 clams per day and a tourist/visitor to keep up to 50 clams a day. Anything above that is not legally approved. But if a resident or a tourist may need to keep up to 500 clams a day rather than 100 or 50 clams respectively, they will require a non-commercial clamming permit by the state of Delaware. The permit costs about 6 dollars for residents and 57 dollars for non-residents.

Clamming Season in Delaware

The seasonal clamming activities in Delaware start on the 1st of December every year. It is undoubtedly a great way to kick start the holiday spirit by taking your family for a bit of clamming fun. Furthermore, opening up the clamming season in December has a few noticeable benefits as well.

  1. During the summer, bacteria levels in the water are very high, which pose a contamination risk.
  2. There is no water traffic like boaters or swimmers. You can peacefully enjoy digging up clams with the fam.
  3. Also, the water clears up during this time of the year due to lesser microorganism levels and fewer people milling about, which makes spotting and raking up the clams easier.

But don’t forget that the temperature drops significantly during December, and the risk of hypothermia is very high when you’re in or near a water body. So keep yourself warm, and you’re good to go.

Bottom Line

Clamming is a very fun activity to engage in and bring your kids closer to nature too. Along with being a recreational activity, it serves commercial and economic advantages too. It is important to note that every state has its laws and regulations when it comes to clams. Delaware is the same and has its legislation. Hence, abiding by those rules is necessary to ensure a pleasurable clamming experience.