Great Bay Clamming


For the Great Bay, NJ area


LICENSE REQUIRED: You view pricing and buy your required license(s) directly from the site

Clamming regulations Click to View

Know the legal waters! NJ Clam Charts (Water Monitoring):
Areas close/open throughout the year due to water conditions.


Hard Clam

  • Chowders - Jumbo
  • Cherries - Large
  • Top Necks - Medium
  • Little Necks - Smallest
  • Oysters
    Oyster regulations Click to View

    Ocean Quahogs
    These are the clams that are dredged by commercial clammers out on the ocean front and commonly used as fresh/salted/frozen bait for fishing.

    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.

    Clamming Rakes (different kinds).
    These are some of the types of rakes most commonly used by recreational clammers. Which one you chose is a matter of what you are most comfortable handling.
    We try to keep a variety of 5 or more kinds of clam rakes in stock during the clamming season.
    Other Clamming Accessories.
    Aside from rakes, these are some other items generally in use for commercial and/or recreational clamming.

    Clam baskets - we try to stock the metal style (didn't have any in 2011). Fruit bushell baskets are also commonly used and can be found at most farmers markets.

    Clamming gloves (in stock item year round)

    You'll see these 30" rings in use out there with a plastic basket in the center to hold the clams. See for such items.

    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:
    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.


    NJ Shellfish Home (Licenses/Regulations)

    Methods of Clamming (Commercial/Custom Rakes, MA)