Click on the images of the following razor clam shows to enlarge them. The 1stphotograph shows a razor clam feeding in the tidal surge before closing. The show in the 2n and 3rd photograph shows the razor clam in first photograph retracting its neck in response to the tapping of the shovel handle as the tidal surge washes away any trace of the razor clams show. The 4th 5th and 6th photographs show a razor donut in the wet sand washing away in the tidal surge. The sequence of events recorded in the series of photographs 1 thru 3 and 4 thru 6 took several seconds each before all trace of the clam disappeared. The last series of photographs are of razor clams shows in the dry sand. They often appear as donuts as shown in the 7th photograph but most often as shallow depressions or holes as shown in the 8th and 9thphotographs. The show in the 9th photograph was the result of tapping the sand next to the shallow depression shown in the 8th photograph with the shovel handle. Razor clams will often show as an area of shimmering sand in both the wet and dry sand.
As shown in the first four images the ODFW recommends the digging method to destabilize the razor clam"s environment using the razor clam shovel. The method recommended by ODFW is the preferred method to dig razor clams under all digging conditions because the clams are dug quickly and efficiently while minimizing the damage to razor clams. Click on the image to enlarge them. To dig razor clams from the wet sand stand still and watch to see if the razor clams are necking or showing in the tidal surge. If the razor clams are not showing force them to show by tapping the surface of the sand with the end of the shovel handle. The vibration from the shovel handle striking the sand causes the clams located 6 to 12 inches under the wet sand to retract their necks quickly and vertically downward at a slight angle towards the ocean; thereby, causing the show to appear briefly in the sand. The clam digger has to be alert because the tidal surge rapidly washes away any trace of the show.
Work quickly place the shovel blade 4 or more inches to either side of the clam’s show as shown in the photos. Push the shovel blade straight down into the sand while getting down on one knee. The handle of the shovel will be pointing away from the digger at an angle parallel to the beach. Push the handle forward with one hand while sliding the other hand down behind the shovel blade. The forward movement of the shovel blade compresses the sand against the side of the razor clam; but more importantly the movement of the bottom of the shovel blade in the opposite direction creates a hole destabilizing the clam’s environment. Pull the shovel handle backwards pulling the shovel blade out of the hole while reaching down in fluid loose sand at the bottom of the hole to retrieve the clam. If you miss the clam, use your fingers to dig downward until encountering it. The show in the photo is located out of sight in front of the shovel blade.
As shown in the six images below, Pumping razor clams from the wet sand using a clam gun is a very popular method to dig razor clams especially for those clam diggers that are new to digging razor clams. Using a clam gun to harvest razor clams is the method preferred by razor clam diggers to dig razor clams from Clatsop Spit beaches and from the sandy beaches of Long Beach Washington. It is the simplicity of design and the ease of use that is the reason for their popularity. They are especially effective when the razor clams are located deep in the wet sand but showing as donuts. It is easier to pump razor clams out of the wet sand than from the dry sand because the razor clam is usually located nearer to the surface of the wet sand and the presence of water makes it easier to push the clam gun into the sand. Some of the newer clam guns have a small tube that runs the length of the clam gun that makes it easier to withdraw the clam gun from the sand. [attachment
To use a clam gun tap the surface of the wet sand with a long wooden staff tethered to your belt to force the clams to reveal their show. Face the ocean and center the clam gun over the clam’s show tilted very slightly towards the beach because the razor clams move quickly downward at a slight angle towards the ocean. Press the clam gun downward twisting with a rocking motion to a depth of 12 to 14 inches. Place your thumb over the hole on the top of the gun and pull upward pushing with your legs. The combination of the upward motion and your thumb over the hole creates a vacuum sucking the clam up trapping it in the clam gun. Remove your thumb from the hole on the top of the clam gun depositing the sand and the clam next to the hole. At times the velocity of the tidal surge is too strong to remove the gun from the sand because the swift current of the tidal surge can carry the clam away. Leave the clam gun buried in the sand until the tidal surge dissipates before removing the clam gun and the clam from the sand. If you miss the clam reach down into the loose sand in the bottom of the hole and use your fingers to dig downward until encountering the clam. We recommend that those new to digging razor clams purchase the inexpensive clam gun.
I'm hearing a lot of good reasons and support regarding the banning of clam guns (vacuum tubes) for taking Razor Clams on Oregon Beaches. Banning the clam guns will save lots of clams by allowing them to grow to adult size before harvesting.
Making the fishery a shovel only fishery makes sense because its not so wasteful.
Dear Soggy Seagull, thanks for sharing your opinion with us. I suggest contacting Matt Hunter the ODFW razor clam biologist for information on razor clam wastage. I believe ODFW may have the information you are looking for. Razor clam wastage is a complex issue. Matt Hunter may be contacted at: (503) 325-2462 or Matthew.V.Hunter@state.or.us.
There is more to the issue than comparing shovels to guns. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe ODFW has restricted commercial clam diggers to the use of shovels because of wastage issues. I do not know if they have studied the comparison of wastage from using shovels to the wastage from using guns.
Personally, my pet peeves and there are two of them: allowing digging during the time when the beaches are dominated by juvenile razor clams and allowing motor vehicles access to the intertidal areas of the beach. Remember, razor clams are on everyone's diet: crabs, seabirds, fish, cars and trucks and of course us. Please share whatever information you find with the rest of us. We will share your finding with the clam diggers that frequent our blog. Thanks, Bill