The clamming season in Maine is all year round and the best time to go clamming is during the low tide and one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset. There are certain restrictions imposed on the size of the shrimp that can be legally kept in the state, the daily harvest limit of clam, the license, and the gears. These restrictions may differ based on the purpose of the harvesting.
Types of Clams
There are three types of clams found in the waters of Maine
- Soft Shelled Clams are often known as the steamers at restaurants.
- Hen Clams are hard clams that are equal to the size of the human palm.
- Razor Clams look like a thin triangle and dig deeper than the soft-shelled or hard clams.
Maximum Size Limits
The maximum size limit of the clamp must be 2 inches for legally keeping them in the state. Any clam lesser than 2 inches should be returned back to the hole rather than leaving them on the sand for the birds to eat.
Maximum Daily Harvest Limits
The daily harvest limit is one peck of clam per person per day. One peck of clam is equal to two gallons and about 15 pounds for hard-shelled clams and 12.5 pounds for soft-shelled clams.
Every citizen and non-citizen of Maine requires a license for harvesting clams for both recreational as well as commercial purposes. The license fees differ based on the towns and areas.
Tools Required for Clamming
In Maine, the soft-shelled clams are harvested using tools like a clam hoe (also known as a rake), a roller, a clam hod, and hip boots. The hip boot allows the clammers to keep their feet and legs dry while they surf through the clam waves and tides. To collect hard-shelled clams, a clam dredge is used.
The clam hoe or a rake looks like a pitchfork that is approximately 18” inches from the tines and bent at an angle of 70 degrees.
Some clammers do not prefer to use the clam hoe or rake but use their hands. These types of clammers are called hand diggers.
The hod which is also called a roller is a ½ bushel basket that is constructed using wood lathes and aluminum and it is used to carry the clams and holds them while the clammers rinse them off. Generally, they are used by hand-diggers, who lean on the handle of the hood in a push up like situation so that they do not have to bend over as much. Using a hod in this fashion is slightly less hard on a clammer’s body then digging using a clam rake.
Onion Bags and Sleds
Clammers residing in the southern part of the state tend to use onion bags to hold and move the clams around and sleds to pull their clams across the mud. Onion bags are used because they are comparatively easier to stack and used for washing clams faster. Reusing bags designed for onions is more easy, sustainable, and friendlier to the environment.
Two-inch Clam Rings
These are used by the clammers to measure the size of the clam from the longest part of their shell. As mentioned earlier, the clams smaller than 2 inches in diameter are not allowed to be harvested.
How to Dig Clams
Finding clams is not a hard job as they are not really good at hiding and seeking. The easiest way is to just take a walk on the flats and look for holes. When the tides are high, the clam rises to the top of the holes to feed on the water while during the low tides they travel back to the bottom. The holes of the clams are usually a foot deep. Also, you can see certain bubbles on the surface of the sand which is an indication that there is an organism that is breathing below.
For just an idea, do not start digging on the top of the hole rather start next to the hole. Firstly, because it will save the shell of the clams from breaking, and secondly, it will help save your hand from any injury because the top of the clam is sharp.
The size of the holes actually indicated the size of the clam. A bigger hole indicates a big size clam and a smaller size indicates a small size clam.
Famous Places for Clamming
A few of the famous places to go clamming in Maine are Biddeford, Brunswick, Bar Harbor, Harpswell, Freeport, Boothbay, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, etc.
Clams are the second most important economic commodity after lobsters. In 2014, roughly 640 people, or 40% of shellfish harvesters in Maine, derived income from clamming in Washington County. During the period of 2009-2015, softshell clam landings in Washington County amounted to approximately $3,138,650 in earnings, with 2,246,883 pounds harvested countywide. Clamming in Rhode Island contributes to an overwhelming and worthwhile experience. Clams make for a fresh and delicious dinner at the Island. The most famous clam dishes are Clam cakes, Clam chowder, Fried whole belly clams, deep-fried clams, and clams stuffies.