🌊 Florida Clamming: Seasons, Licensing & Locations

Florida State is an American state located in the southeast of the country. People know this state throughout the world for its beaches and nightlife. The most popular cities of Florida, namely Miami and Orlando, are popular tourist attractions with a nightlife that many wish to experience at least once in their lives. It borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, with over 4500 islands. There are many tourist attractions in Florida, such as theme parks, bars, wildlife parks, surfing, fishing, and much more. If you’re looking for a relaxing family vacation spot, with lots of fun activities too, then Florida is the place for you.

People also know Florida for sea-related activities such as clamming, which they engage in for both recreational and commercial purposes. Tourists and locals both engage in clamming during the season and collect all kinds of clams from different bays, ponds, and seashores in the state. Florida is probably the largest producer of clams commercially. Because a lot of people come to visit Florida for vacations and fun, the amount of clams dug up for recreational purposes is also higher than any other U.S state. However, understanding the dynamics of clamming in Florida is essential before engaging in a clam-related activity.

Florida’s Best Clamming Spots

Before you pick up your bucket to go clamming, knowing the right places to find clams is very important. Florida is known for its numerous bays and beaches. However, not all of them are the ideal spots for digging up clams. Some of Florida’s best clamming spots based on gulfs include:

  1. Western Gulf – includes Pensacola Bay in Escambia County and goes up to the East Bay in Bay County
  2. Central Gulf – includes St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County and goes up to Wakulla County
  3. Big Bend Gulf – includes Horseshoe Beach in Dixie County and continues to Citrus County
  4. Southern Gulf – includes Boca Ciega Bay in Pinellas County up to Ten Thousand Islands in Collier County
  5. Atlantic Coast – the Fort Pierce Inlet in St. Lucie County and goes up to the Tolomato River in St. Johns County

But before planning a trip to any of these areas, make sure you check their opening status given on the official site.

Clamming Season in Florida

Like vegetables and fruits have seasons where they grow the best, clams have seasons too. If you want to get a good amount of clamming done, going during the clamming season is ideal. Each area has its clamming season, and each clam has its unique season when its population is the highest. In Florida, the season for hard clams is open all year round, which means people harvest them throughout the year.

The season for oysters is open through the year except for 1st June – 31st August in Dixie, Levy, and Wakulla counties and 1st July – 30th September in all other counties. If you’re planning a trip to go clamming in Florida, your safest bet would be to go in the fall. This period is when all counties will be in season for clamming.

Primary Clam in Florida

People know Florida for its hard clams that are of great commercial benefit. Two species of hard clams are commonly harvested in Florida, namely, the northern quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria) and the southern quahog (Mercenaria campechiensis). Both of these are of immense commercial benefit. You can find them in Florida’s east and west coast waters; they are popular seafood in the state.

In appearance, the hard clams are nothing extraordinary. They have a brown hard shell covered with ridges or layers that indicate its age. The hard clam can live up to 30 years and can grow to 4 Β½ inches wide. The tough outer shell provides a cover to the soft clam meat inside. They live deep within the sand sediments, and you need to rake them manually to bring them to the surface. Moreover, you can harvest them 365 days a year. These are the most prized clams of the Florida state, with both locals and tourists searching for them.

Legal Size of Clams in Florida

Like all others, Florida State has its policy regarding what the size of a clam must be for you to possess it in Florida. The rules say that no one should keep within their ownership a hard clam that is less than 1 inch in width across the hinge or an oyster less than 3 inches. If a person does so, he will break the law, and any punishment the state sees fit will become applicable.

Legal Number of Clams per Person in Florida

The number of clams a person can possess at a given time varies according to the species of clams. For oysters, the amount of oysters (in the shell) a person can keep for recreational purposes is two bags (60 lbs. per bag or vessel or five gallons per vessel) per a single person. This law applies to all the counties in Florida except Apalachicola Bay.

For hard clams (in the shell), the rules state that a single person can keep one five-gallon bucket or two per vessel. It is essential to follow these regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable clamming season. Any person found in possession of any more than the advised number of clams will face punishment according to the law, and the state will take control of the clams in question.
Bottom Line

Clamming is a fun way to spend your weekend with your family or by yourself. Florida hosts many clam species, which, in addition to being good for recreational purposes, also serve a great deal of economic and commercial benefits. But abiding by the state’s rules for engaging in clamming is important to not harm the clam population in Florida waters. Choose bays and water spots that legally allow clamming, only collect clams of the proposed size, and stay within the limit stated by the authorities. We hope the information in this article helps you prepare for a tremendous clamming season.