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softshell clams
Softshell Clam
Digging for Softshell Clams

Softshell Clams

Softshell clams are a favorite of many diggers due to the liberal limit and easy availability. Softshells are native to the East coast where they are used in clam bakes; similarly they are enjoyed as a "steamer" on the West coast. Unlike the other four common species of bay clams they are found not only in the lower estuary, but fairly high up as well. They tend to be most accessable for this reason.

Daily Limit: 36 (regulations)
Use: chowder, steamed, steaks
Digging Method: shovel, clam gun
Habitat: Brackish , muddy areas
Where to Dig: Necanicum | Nehalem | Tillamook | Netarts | Nestucca | Yaquina | Alsea | Siuslaw | Umpqua | Coos | Coquille

More info about softshell clams

How to clean softshell clams

Five Steps to Digging Sofshell Clams

clam map

Step 1 - Find a clam bed

Softshell clams can be found in nearly every estuary of Oregon. See the "where to dig" page to see maps.

softshell show

Step 2 - Identify the show

Softshell clams have variable shows. They are generally round, but can also be oblong or rectangular.

clam digging

Step 3 - Start digging!

Dig around the show and not straight down on it... necks can easily be sliced off with a shovel, and shells break fairly easily so in the interest of safety and ease of preparation come in from the side. Dig to the side of the show with the first shovel full and then go more towards the predicted clam location with the second. If you don't get your clam after having dug down a foot or so you will want to feel around to see if there is a clam there at all.

careful digging

Step 4 - Be careful!

This species is called softshell for a reason... shells are easily broken. Reprecussions for carelessness can be severe as in razor clams (also aptly named). Although a clam with a broken shell is still good to eat, sharp edges of a broken shell can be very dangerous. Until you've refined your shoveling skills you may try very carefully grabbing them by hand once you dig near their depth.


Step 5 - Collect your prize, how to clean a softshell clam


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