|Tools and Techniques Of the trade|
Commercial clammers in the bays use big rakes or a method called treading. To tread, one wears chest waders or a wetsuit, preferrably something with flexible boots, and feel for the clams with ones feet. On the ocean, they use nets.
Recreational clammers can also tread. Most however, seem to prefer to use some kind of scratch or basket rake to work the clams loose from the bottom. See tools section below.
|Where to Clam?
First off, know what waters are open, closed or seasonal.
The state produces a map for this purpose each year, you should be able to pick one up anywhere you can buy a clamming license.
Online info about waters: http://www.nj.gov/dep/bmw/waterclass.htm
This site has maps showing seasonal areas.
The most common areas to clam locally are the sandbars near the Fish Factory islands on the Great Bay side and the sandbars in and around the islands on the Little Egg Harbor side. You can also clam in the LBI (Long Beach Island) ocean front surf. DO NOT forget to have your license with you!
- Stay out of the clam stakes - these are privately leased lots and illegal to clam in. They are marked by cedar stakes or pvc poles which mark the corners of the lots.
- Great Bay is primarily open, however, most of the creeks are either closed or seasonal - reference those shellfish maps!
- Manmade lagoons, canals and marinas are prohibited from clamming. This is because clams can absorb the residue from fuel/oil from where boats are moored.
Where/when to find them?
Low tide is always the best! Head out when the tide is about halfway down to low and you can clam right through low tide and partway through incoming, depending on the depth of the area you choose to clam in. Clams live/grow about an inch or so below the surface in sandy or muddy bottom. The seeds land in lines, so when you find clams, try to figure out which direction the line travels in to locate more. You should be able to see small air holes cause by the clams when they filter water for food, especially if the bottom is sandy.
Be aware that the bottom of the bay changes on a regular basis. Sandbars shift...soft bottoms go hard, hard bottoms go soft. The best clamming is in the soft or "live" bottom. Areas that are soft in the early months may be hard bottom later in the year, and visa versa.