3 Ways to Catch Razor Clams

Water running over a bowl of clams
What You'll Need
Ice chest
Clam gun or tube
Clam shovel
Narrow-bladed shovel
Table salt
The tools will depend on how you are catching clams.

Razor clams are coastal shellfish, known for their rarity and their meaty contents. Found in the sand of the intertidal coastal beaches, they can be harvested in several ways.

Start by timing your visit to the beach, so you can follow the tide out. First, look for a “clam show.” At the edge of the surf line, there will be small dimples or holes in the wet sand as the water ebbs. It’s where the clam has stuck its neck out and tried to dig to go back to the sea. As soon as you see the telltale hole, move quickly using one of these methods:

1. With a Tube or “Clam Gun”

The tube, or “clam gun,” you need for razor clams is about 2-3 feet long and 4-inches in diameter, with a ½ inch hole at the top. Stainless steel or metal will work best for digging in wet sand. The best idea is to just go to a fishing supply store and get a clam gun, but if you have something similar it could work just as well. A clam gun has a T-shaped top so you don’t have to try and cover it with your fingers while digging.

When you spot a clam show, place the tube around it, with the hole in the center and work the tube down into the sand at least two feet. Then cover the hole at the top and remove the tube. Empty the tube onto the beach and take the clam or clams out and put it in your ice chest. Clam guns can be difficult to use on rocky or pebble-filled beaches.

2. Dig With a Clam Shovel

man standing overlooking the ocean

Once you locate the holes in the sand, dig quickly with a clam shovel. Go straight down about 3-6 inches from the center of the clam show. Place the back of the shovel facing the hole and begin removing sand. Don’t curve it toward the center of the hole because you risk cutting the clam off at the neck or breaking the shell. Keep scooping straight down until you expose the clam. Then reach in and carefully grab it by the neck or shell and place it in your ice chest.

3. Salt Them Out

Razor clams are extremely sensitive to salinity. One way to reduce your effort and have the clams come to you is to use table salt. As soon as you see the show, when it is open widest, pour salt into the hole. The clam should emerge in order to escape the salt and then just catch it and place it in your ice chest.

Be sure to check fishing rules and seasons with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (1-866-880-5431). There’s a limit on how many clams you can harvest at one time. So be very careful when digging, especially with the clam shovel. The clams are fairly delicate and break easily. Clams with broken shells will die, but they will also count for your total, so don’t discount the broken ones. They can still be eaten, just harder to clean.