Want to go clamming? You’ll need a license – that will set you back $35 – and you’ll want to make sure you’re there when the licenses are being issued, since there’s a limit on the number available.
You’ll need a pair of wellies – high rubber ‘fishing’ boots – because you’ll be in wet sand and mud; a bucket for your clams, some sort of digging tool – such as a spading fork – because you don’t want to damage the fragile clam shells – remember you’ll be digging mud and rocks…and clams.
Now you should be all set. Once you’re on the flats that are open, you’ll want to look for small holes in the mud. Clams settle in the mud vertically with their ‘foot’, ‘neck’ or siphon up toward the surface, but if they sense you walking, they’ll pull their siphons in, often squirting a little water out causing these holes.
Place your spading fork about 6” from the holes and push down, then gently lever your fork up – seek a clam neck? – grab it! Hold on to it as you raise the mud up – the clam…is yours!
Now don’t leave the hole you’ve made – more clams are down there! Stick your hand down in the hole and feel for any vertical clams – you’ll have to gently rock the clam back and forth to get it out of the mud – forget the rocks.
Once your first hole’s pretty much cleaned out, go on and make a second and repeat what you’ve first done. When your bucket’s full, throw back any small ones – under 2” – those are for next season – and toss any with broken shells – those clams might put you in bed.
You’re ready to rinse your clams in salt water, and you may want to leave them overnight in a bucket of salt water – my dad always had me scrub them as well – all this to make sure all the grit is out of the clams before you dine like a king – some of the best eating on the coast of Maine!