Razor Clam Digging Tides and Tips

Shoulder deep in a hole in the sand, waves crashing overhead and a hand on the prize – a delicious buttery razor clam. A treasured northwest tradition, thousands flock to the southwestern beaches of Washington State to hunt for razor clams. You can dig for clams at several Washington State Parks from Pacific Beach to Grayland Beach State Park (find these parks on our interactive state park map). Whether you are a veteran digger or you are interested in trying this for the first time, please enjoy these tips for how to razor clam like a pro….we think you’ll dig ’em!

Serious clam diggers at Pacific Beach State Park hunt for clams in the early morning (photo credit: Jenny M Burns)

Tip 1: Stay “current” on tide information

It is important to stay mindful of approved digging tides for health and safety reasons. When there are pollutants or the water is too warm, the beaches are not open or safe for digging. The best way to find information about safe and approved clam digging tides is to check with our friends at Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW). Remember to buy and bring your shellfish license! Great news, it looks like there are several approved clam digs through March 2016.

Tip 2: Wear your Northwest best

Washington State native and pro clam digger, Marty Gillis, digs up some dinner from Pacific Beach State Park (photo credit: Jenny M Burns)

Dress for the weather (which will be cold, wet, and windy). Wool socks are a must. We recommend a warm base layer, rain gear, a hat and *pro tip* some dishwashing gloves! They call these clams “razor” clams for a reason. Razor clams have sharp shells that can cut your fingers if they are not protected. Dishwashing gloves keep your hands dry and protect them from razor shells.

Tip 3: Keep your eyes down and your hopes high

razor clam hole spotted at Pacific Beach State Park (photo credit: Jenny M Burns)

For first-timers it can be challenging to recognize signs of a razor clam nearby. You can spot a razor clam hole by walking around in the wet sand looking for a nickel-sized “dimple” in the sand. If you walk closer to the water you will sometimes find the clams “necking” and you will see a small beige Sand Dollar shape in the sand.

Tip 4: Dig in and Don’t give up!

Joe Cusella with Razor Clam at Pacific Beach State Park (photo credit: Jenny M Burns)

Razor clamming is not easy work, but the rewards bring smiles. Approved low tides are often early in the morning or late at night and the weather is usually quite blustery and cold at the beach. Popular digging tools include the classic shovel, a razor clam “gun” that pulls out a tube of sand, or sometimes people will even use their hands to dig!

Tip 5: Clean, cook and enjoy!

Pan-fried Razor Clams from the ocean to the plate the same day! Delicious. (photo credit: Jenny M Burns)

There are so many great parts about razor clamming, but arguably the best part is eating and enjoying the tasty buttery delicacies. You clean razor clams by first removing them from their shells by scraping the shells away from their bodies with a knife and then cleaning and cutting the clams into friable steaks with kitchen scissors over a sink. The most popular way to prepare razor clams is to lightly bread and pan-fry them. Yum!

Now you are ready to go out and enjoy this popular Northwest sport! Please let us know how your trip went and share your photos with our Washington State Parks photo contest via staging.waparks.org/photo-contest.

Happy digging!