Cities Guide for the Southern Oregon Coast

Clamming on the Oregon Coast

The Gaper Clam, also called HORSE CLAM (Tresus nuttallii and Tresus capax), either of two species of bivalve mollusks of the family Mactridae. These clams live in sand and mud flats along the coast of western North America from Alaska to Baja California. The shells of both species reach about 200 millimetres (8 inches) in length. They are roughly oblong in shape and creamy white in colour. Gaper clams have long, fused siphons that are contained in sheathlike tubes; the siphons are not fully retractable into the shell. The clams burrow up to one metre (three feet) deep into sediment. Gaper clams are edible and are heavily fished at spring tides. They are commonly infected with larval tapeworm cysts, but these are harmless to humans. 

Horseneck Clams (Gaper Clams) are larger than your ordinary clam. Typically a nice size Horseneck will have a shell that measures six to eight inches. Gaper (Tresus capax) is the true name for Horseneck. They are found about three or four feet in the mud and sand in the bay in several bays from Canada to California. 

The best place to go claming is the Carleston Bay when the tide is low enough to walk on the mud flats without getting wet. 

There are various pieces of equipment that people use, but the simplest is a shovel, a bucket, and some boots.  A yearly shellfish license is required to harvest clams, crabs and mussels, and can be obtained at most fishing supply stores.

When you are out on the mudflats, it is very simple to catch clams. First, find a small whole (about half and inch to an inch in diameter) and stick your finger in it. If you feel a tounge move away quickly, you have found a clam. Quickly dig out a whole and grab the clam before it borrows deaper into the mud.

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