By Stacey Sutherlin
As spring comes into season, many outdoor enthusiasts gear up for many different outdoor activities which include digging razor clams. Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula has provided great clamming opportunities for years, bringing many to the area to provide for their families.
This is a fun outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, is fairly inexpensive to do and provides tasty clams for meals. When going out in the Alaskan wilderness, it is very important to plan and prepare for the environment and what it may entail on your adventure.
Gather up your gear to include waterproof boots or waders, a clam shovel or clam gun, a bucket, your sport fishing license and eagerness for a fun day outdoors. It’s important to wear layers and/or bring an extra set of clothes in case you do get wet.
Make a point to review the current shellfish regulations for the year and area you plan to clam, the daily limits that are in place, and you must keep track of the clams you dig to avoid fines for being over the limit. Take note that on the west side of the Cook Inlet, there are no limits in place at this time. And, clamming is open year-round in Alaska.
As you prepare for your clamming adventure, there are several things to keep in mind. The most ideal locations to clam are at the head of bays where the flats are exposed at low tide. Clamming at negative low tides will provide the most clams as it gives you the opportunity to clam further out on the flats and for longer times. When it comes to cleaning your razor clams, it is a time-consuming task but worth the reward.
Since 2015, clamming on the east side of the Cook Inlet has been closed by emergency due to low abundance of adult clams, so what does that mean, you ask? It means that access to clam beds for razor clamming is now limited greatly, but don’t let that deter you from this fun activity.
On the east side of the Cook Inlet it’s said that over-clamming, storms of the past, and pounding surfs have contributed to the falling populations. Although the clam populations in this affected area are recovering, it is at a slow rate and there is no prediction of when the east side will open for clamming in the future. This is unfortunate as this side provides some of the best road-accessible areas for this activity.
The good news is that razor clamming on the west side of the Cook Inlet is still open! Although this presents a couple of challenges, I can assure you that the reward is worth it! Access to the area on the west side requires either a large boat that can safely cross the inlet waters or an airplane. On the west side of the Cook Inlet the beaches are much different, they are not continuous sandy beaches but rather isolated sandy beaches.
The most popular spot on the west side for clamming is from Polly Creek Beach to the Crescent River which is located south of Kalgin Island, between Kamishak Bay and Harriet Point when looking at the map. The nice part about this area is it not only produces razor clams but steamer clams as well.
Once you find your means of getting to the west side, the fun begins! The views that you enjoy on your trip over, the memories to be made, the sandy beaches, and the buckets of clams can’t be beat. When you’re clamming the west side of the Cook Inlet, it’s important that you use common sense when clamming, be courteous to fellow and future clam diggers, don’t take more than you can manage, and enjoy yourself. If we work together and continue to be smart, this valuable resource will last for the next generation and the next. Next week, the method for getting your next clam supper.