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Shellfish Areas

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Coos Bay

These charts depict popular, productive shellfishing areas. Bay clam and crab species occur in other areas within Coos Bay, but may be less popular to access. Additionally, many other species of shellfish, some popular for harvest (e.g. bait shrimp, razor clams, etc.) may be present, but not represented here.

Coos Bay is Oregon’s largest bay. The lower bay (area's from the ocean entrance to the airport) is “marine dominated” meaning there is little freshwater influence, and offers some of Oregon’s most productive shellfishing oppurtunities. In 2008, extensive research was conducted by ODFW's shellfish program on the clam populations of lower Coos Bay.

Shellfish regulations

Activity Species Description:
Bay clamming:

how to bay clam

bay clams
All species of “bay clams” are found in abundance in lower Coos Bay, tideflats are large and easily accessible. In upper Coos Bay where marine influence and salinity is lower, softshell clams are found on soft muddy flats.
Shore crabbing:

how to crab

Dungeness and red rock crab
Worthwhile year round, though best during Fall and Winter. Dock crabbing access points are found in Empire and Charleston.
Boat crabbing:
Dungeness and red rock crab

Excellent, particularly west of the navigational channel in lower Coos Bay.


coos bay shellfish areas Airport (AP):Extensive clam beds, west of the runway are rarely accessed, but very productive. Gapers and cockles are found. Access is by boat only Lower Coos Bay zoom Charleston area zoom

Coos Bay shellfish areas (pdf)

Lower Coos Bay

Includes areas of the North spit on the West side of the bay and easily accessible areas along Cape Arago Highway.

Lower Coos Bay Strawberry Island Empire flat Training Jetty

North Spit

The Western side of lower Coos Bay features very popular boat crabbing and gaper and butter clam digging. Access is difficult (4x4 road or boat only). Paved road ends at the former aquaculture facility, (access point #6) Gaper and butter clams are found densely throughout. Other species of bay clams are harvested less often, but can be found.

Strawberry Island (SI)

This is the only vegetated island in lower Coos Bay. Gaper and butter clams are easily dug along the muddy shoreline and large butter clams can be dug in the gravely beds around the island.

Clam Island (CI)

This “island” emerges at a +2 or lower tide and is only accessed by boat. Aptly named “Hungrymans cove” is a small channel that separates the shoreline with the island, a good place to crab on a windy day.

The island itself is only accessed by boat, it features the highest densities of gaper and butter clams in Coos Bay. Cockle and native littleneck clams are also found.

Shoreline flats boast excellent gaper and butter clamming.

Training Jetty (TJ)

This tideflat contained between the shoreline and the “training jetty” is known to have large gaper clams though with shifting sands, often deeply dug in.

Along Cape Arago Highway

Clamming along Cape Arago highway is excellent and easily accessible from multiple points. Gaper and butter clams are popular to dig throughout these extensive flats.

Pigeon point (PP)

This expansive clam bed is productive and easily accessed. A good clamming area for butter and gaper clams is adjacent to the county easement area opposite of Grinnel road (access point #4).

Further down the bay, the Fossil point area (parking area at Beacon lane, access point #3) has good beds of large butter and gaper clams, however digging can be a little more difficult as the substrates include shell, and cobble.

Empire (EP)

The tideflats adjoining Empire are good for gaper and butter clamming. Parking and access is at a city parking area opposite of Fulton ave (access point #5).
Sediments are soft and easy to dig in, however holes dug for gapers may cave in easily, choose good low tides.

Charleston area

Clamming in Charleston is excellent throughout, access is easy.

Shore crabbing is accessible from a number of docks.


Area descriptions:

Charleston Area

Charleston shore crabbing:

Dock crabbing is available thorughout the commercial docks in Charleston. Additionally, the Charleston visitor center and the T-docks South of the bridge provide excellent dock crabbing.

Point Adams (PA):

Large cockles can be raked along the sandy beach. Gapers occasionally recruit to the beach southwest of the point. Access is at the end of Boat Basin road.

Charleston Triangle (CT):
Gapers and butters are abundant. Easily accessed from parking areas South of docks (access point #1).

Charleston Flat (CF):
Gapers and butters can be dug throughout the areas South of the South Slough bridge. Cockles can be raked toward the South end of this area. Access is at the Charleston visitor center (access point #2)

Barview (BV):
Butter clams throughout in good numbers. Gapers and native littlenecks are also found.

Indian Point (IP):
Boat access only. Cockle, gaper and butter clams can be found throughout.

Valino Island (VI):
Boat access only. Cockle, gaper and butter clams can be found throughout.

Other areas:

Upper Coos Bay (UC)

The areas “up bay” of the Rairoad bridge are soft and muddy. Softshell clams can be found throughout, finding firm walking substrate is the challenge. Areas around transpacific highway and North slough are occasionally used.

Airport (AP)

Extensive clam beds, west of the runway are rarely accessed, but very productive. Gapers and cockles are found. Boat access only.


Boat Launches

Boat launches in Coos Bay can be found at the following locations:

  • Charleston Boat Ramp- within the Charleston marina complex (fee applies)

  • Empire Boat ramp- located at turn from Ocean Blvd to Cape Arago Hwy (free)

  • BLM boat ramp- located on North spit, but not always open due to sedimentation (free)

  • California Street Boat ramp- located along Highway 101, in North Bend (free)


Information provided is a result of ODFW creel and population surveys, spot checks, and input from local residents. The purpose of this map is to provide the user with information and locations of recreational shellfish areas where the most likelihood of success may be found by species. Clam species identified within a particular area represent the most abundant found; other species may be present or may exist in areas not identified on the map. This is to be used as a reference as sandbars, clam beds, and species composition can shift over time. Always use caution when boating/crabbing in the lower bay as swift currents during tidal exchanges can occur, and result in loss of gear or cause boat to be pulled out to sea if mechanical problems arise. Developed 2014.


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