The Techniques Behind Harvesting the Best Clams on the West Coast

Native Pacific Littleneck Clams

Native Pacific Littleneck Clams

The Suquamish Tribe lives on the Port Madison Indian Reservation in Washington state, where they harvest and sell seafood. Using methods passed down from their elders, members of the tribe harvest clams and oysters with their hands and celebrate together over clam bakes.

Kari's note: I learned something new from this video. Mainly that there are "Littleneck" clams in the Pacific Ocean. They are different than the "Littleneck" clams in the Atlantic, however.

Native Pacific littleneck clams have an oval to round shape and they grow up to 3½ inches long. The shell exterior exhibits concentric rings with radiating lines that form a lattice pattern. They may be cream or grey colored and may display a variety of different patterns. The anterior (lower) side of the hinge of the native littleneck clam typically has a pronounced ridge, whereas the same location on the Manila clam is indented.

Native littleneck clams are buried 4 to 6 inches deep in cobble, gravel, sand, or mud substrate and they normally occur in the mid-intertidal zone.

Geographic range:
Native littleneck clams can be found from the Aleutian Islands, AK south to Baja California Sur.

Licenses and permits
Anyone digging for clams in Washington must have a valid license that includes shellfish harvest. See the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for more information, or visit a license dealer.

Rules and seasons
Minimum size 1½ inches measured across longest distance of the shell. Daily combined limit of all clam species (excluding HORSE CLAMS and GEODUCKS) no more than 40 clams, not to exceed 10 pounds in the shell.

Recreational clam seasons are beach-specific and may change annually. Check this year’s seasons here: Public clam, mussel, and oyster beaches. Always check the DOH biotoxin status before harvesting.

The Pacific Littleneck are Leukoma staminea.

The Atlantic Littleneck are the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria.


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