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Thread: Clamming questions

  1. #1
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    Default Clamming questions

    we'd like to try clamming on may 29. reading the forums sounds like clam gulch or deep creek would be best. never been and have a couple of 12 year olds. which would be better for us newbies? should we hire a guide or is this something we don't need a guide for? if so, any recommendations for guides? looking more for experience and a few clams, we're not lookng to fill our freezers. thanks.

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    You don't need a guide for clamming. The best place to Clam, we found, is at Ninilchik. People say Deep Creek but you actually turn towards CI at the Ninilchik River. We love to camp down there on the beach (self contained, because the public Toilets are gross) and wait for the right tides. If you are a beginner ask some of the people clamming down there, we are always glad to help beginners. Follow the crowds, people start to head out about 1-2 hours before low tide and follow the tide out. Look for dimples/holes. Get yourself a tide book and it will give some instructions on digging. We've always found that after the tide turns and starts to come in, the clams really start to show and you can work your way back in. DO NOT get caught on the island (the clamming there is over rated anyways). You will need a bucket, clamming shovel or gun, hip waders, and maybe some of those blue gardening gloves to keep yourself from cutting your fingers. If you have little kids like us, bring some duck tape and tape your kids' water boots to his/her pants, it keeps the boots on and sometimes dry if they don't get in the water too deep. Only keep what you want to clean. You will understand what I mean if you bring back two limits. As for cleaning, this is what we do.

    1.) Wash off the mud and sand as best as you can (especially the broken ones) and keep in the bucket.
    2.) Boil a big pot of water and pour it over the clams. This will open them up and gently cook them but not all the way and then remove the water. You will want to remove them from shells as soon as possible after boiling. The hot water will continue to cook them if left soaking. Some people dip them in boiling water one by one. I am not that patient.
    3.) Remove clams from the shells and put in another bucket of cold water. Now all you have is whole clams without shells.
    4.) Remove the diggers/foot (these are the best pieces and most tender) from the neck.
    5.) Using a pair of scissors cut off the tip of the neck (black part) and discard, split the kneck open and wash off all the mud and sand.
    6.) Using scissors, cut the guts from the digger/foot and split open to remove rest of guts.
    7.) Repeat steps 4 through 6 about 120 times if you have two limits and in about 5 hours you will be cussing yourself for being an idiot. I always try to do it with a 12 pack close by. Or you can make your wife and mother-in-law do it while you sit there drinking beers. That didn't work for me.
    8.) Fry up some diggers with bread crumbs in butter and lightly season with some Johnny's seasfood seasoning and enjoy. We also find that the clam knecks are much more tender for chowder if they have been canned first. So we eat the diggers fresh and can the necks.

    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
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    Default corn meal

    If you put the clams in a bucket(we use a cooler) with fresh water and a bunch of corn meal, let sit for about an hour and then empty water and repeat, the clams(as long as they are not broken and dead) will cycle the corn meal through thier system and it flushes the sand out of them. Then clean like qkayak suggests. Last time we went the people camped next to us were from the interior and had been fishing in Homer the day before. They only had time to stay for one night and good tide. We had been there for a week. We had told them(jokingly) we would be happy to take some halibut off thier hands if they had too much. The next morning the wife went to get the clam cooler so we could finish cleaning our last limit. She found a note on it that read " We ran out of room for our clams and we will be going on another charter this summer just not during clamming tides, so please enjoy". There were about 20lbs of halbut fillets in there. Luckily the paper they used was an old envelope with thier address on it (coincidence - maybe, maybe not). When we got home we sent them a package of clams as a thank you (along with a note so they knew where the clams were from).

  4. #4

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    Two really good entries above. Clamming is easy and you'll be an expert after your first trip. Finding a productive spot is the hard part. If you get into decent sized clams stay there. You are very fortunate to have a pair of 12-year olds along. That way you can dig (the easy part) and they can drop down and do battle on the sand with the clams (save your back). The kids will love the trip. I've been hitting the Cook Inlet beaches since I was little and now take my own kids. Have fun and good luck.

  5. #5

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    I'm chuckling over "qkayak's" post. I think everyone who has spent any time on the clam bed can relate to the "double limit syndrome". I have learned to take only 20-30 (my immediate needs) only, but I also go most available tides at least once. That way I don't get too sick of cleaning them. I have used the hot water cleaning system with friends at their place, but I prefer to simply shuck them with a small clam knife. Clamming is as fun a family activity there is, and educational too. After a few times, most people get comfortable with "their system". Beware of the multiple limit syndrome. ("qkayak's" point #7 / I'm still chuckling) Next, butters, steamers, and mussels.

  6. #6

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    Ninilchik is the place to go, at least it was for us. You might get a gun or two as well as a shovel. I never mastered the proper shovel technique, but took right to the gun. I'll repeat what is said above. Clamming good, cleaning bad. I, for a change, was smart enough to only take about 50, (three of us clamming) still took 2 hours to clean. If you are in the Valley or even Anchorage, I've got shovels I'd lend to you. Just PM me.

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    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fishkill View Post
    I never mastered the proper shovel technique, but took right to the gun.
    This is funny! I've NEVER been able to use a gun without busting a clam, it's ditch diggn' for me!

  8. #8

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    I think the mistake most inexperienced shovel clammers make is trying to use the shovel for the whole job. The technique I've used since I was taught as a little kid is after one or two scoops it's "dig with the hand until you feel the neck, then grasp the shell a little further down and slowly pull it up". Continued shovel work either breaks the one you're after or one you didn't know was there and ended up on top of. I know some who only dig with their hand, "bearpaw" style, and are very successfull at it. I have never used a gun in my life so I can't comment on how they work. I've found there's about as many techniques as there are people doing it.

  9. #9

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    How long will the clams live in a salt water bucket and how long does it take for them to purge the sand out of their system?

  10. #10
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Default not sure

    not sure on the razors - I have kept little necks and butters for 4 days - swapping the water out daily.

    Clam guns are the only way that I will clam razors.

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    Default in buckets

    We actually use a large cooler with fresh water and corn meal. The cooler helps keep the water cold. The clams are almost all still alive after about 4 hours, which is 3-4 water and corn meal changes, and then we start cleaning them.

  12. #12
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    Default Mentioned necks and diggers....

    but what about the bodies (like two little filets)? Alternative to canning the necks: throw them in a blender with ritz crackers and eggs, puree then make sure they are stiff enough (adjust crackers or eggs) and make into clam cakes and fry, yummy!

    About those shovels, you never need to dig with them....so easy, just push backwards shovel into the sand a couple inches behind the clam dimple, and pull the handle towards you to lock the clam from digging down. Keep the shovel tight as you kneel down, then pull the shovel out as you quickly slide your free hand down the shovel slot, feel for the clam, and pull it out. Takes a few seconds for each clam when you get good. Those blue or even better the black nitrile faced gloves (fit tighter, more flexible) save your skin!

    There are a couple of great razor clam cleaning videos using scissors on youtube...

  13. #13
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    Just got back from Nilnichik a few hours ago. The clamming was good. Not a lot of people and plenty of clams. Just make sure you have your fishing license when you are down there. I watched a state trooper site several people tickets in the parking lot. The clamming should only get better as the weekend goes on. The tide receides a little more each day and today's tide was -2.5 or something like that.
    "A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine." Marley and Me

  14. #14
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    Default Ninilchik clamming

    The wife digs em by hand. I gave up the shovel for the gun. They now make a gun that has a small tube that runs parallel to the main tube. It allows air to flow down and under the clam tube so there is virtually no resistance to your uplift of the gun. I used one a couple yrs ago. Wish I could get my hands on one. ( I had borrowed a neighbors.) Easiest way I ever saw.
    Anyhow, good posts by all above. ---Don't take the limit and make sure u have your license. Troopers checking intensely.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Ron View Post
    but what about the bodies (like two little filets)? Alternative to canning the necks: throw them in a blender with ritz crackers and eggs, puree then make sure they are stiff enough (adjust crackers or eggs) and make into clam cakes and fry, yummy!

    About those shovels, you never need to dig with them....so easy, just push backwards shovel into the sand a couple inches behind the clam dimple, and pull the handle towards you to lock the clam from digging down. Keep the shovel tight as you kneel down, then pull the shovel out as you quickly slide your free hand down the shovel slot, feel for the clam, and pull it out. Takes a few seconds for each clam when you get good. Those blue or even better the black nitrile faced gloves (fit tighter, more flexible) save your skin!

    There are a couple of great razor clam cleaning videos using scissors on youtube...
    Excellent post Cap'n Ron. The body of a razor is excellent eating also. We have a nickname for this part but for this family orientated site we'll call it the "zipper" 'cause it also looks like a zippered pouch that is about half zipped. If you split that in half (finish opening the zipper with scissors or a knife and continue through the body) you will have the product for clam strips. Dip those into a batter (I use eggs) and then dip into either crushed crackers, cornmeal, or whatever suits your tastes and then fry in a pan of hot oil, you will have, IMO, the best part of a razor clam. I love making chowder later on, but fresh clam strips are the best part I think.
    Also you are right about "digging" razors with a shovel. There's no reason to dig - just follow Cap'n Ron's instructions on how to use a shovel correctly and you'll save yourself a LOT of effort and pretty much never break another shell!!

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