I love to go clam digging! Actually, I call it clam pumping because of the way we get them.
I live in northern California and we get horseneck clams, washingtons, and soft shell clams. .They are in the bays on the mud flats when the tides go down. We have **** too but I have never gone after those.
I call it clam pumping as we devised pumps to pump them out with. Actually, you use the pump to suck up water and blow it out with force to dig with like shoving a water hose into the ground would. The pump is just a piece of 3 inch PVC pipe with a cap on one end. The cap is drilled in the center so you can shove a metal rod down through it that is a little longer than the PVC pipe is (about 3 feet). The rod has a handle on the top for pumping and on the other end, inside the pipe is a big rubber washer (we used a tennis ball squeezed between two washers on a threaded rod) to form tight to the sides of the pipe so as to form a vacuum when you pull up on the handle so you suck the water up into the pipe. You have to have a vent hole on the side of the pipe up near the top.
Then, you walk in shallow water on the outgoing tide (don’t wait until it is all the way out, as you need the water) and find a clam hole or neck sticking out. You shove your finger into it and you can feel the slimy clam withdraw its neck so you know it is a clam, as a lot of things look like clam holes and aren’t.
Then, you put the pump over the hole and don’t push down. Hold it up a little as your goal is to suck the water up and blow the sand out, making a hole down to the clam. You can feel the clam most of the time when you get to it and you don’t want to push hard as you will cut the neck off or break the clam’s shell. Then, you hold it up a little and pump it fast about 6 or 8 times to flush the sand from around the clam. Lastly, pull up on the pump handle quickly and remove the pump and spit the water out to the side. A lot of times, the clam gets spit out right at your feet. You might have to come back to find it or wait, as the water is too muddy to see if it came up or not. Anyway, you reach down in the hole and pull it out if it didn’t and you feel around for other ones as many time there are two or three in one hole!
This whole process takes less than a minute, so a limit of 10 to 50 clams is a short chore. That digging is for the birds! And the kids love doing this too. I love getting them but it is usually a by-product of being at the coast abalone diving and spear fishing, which are two of my passions. Clamming is easy compared to those activities. I wrote an article on those but they are about 3500 words long and too long to write here. If you want, you can go to the blogs section of http://www.fishnfools.com to read about that. It is a fun read and you can really learn the ins and outs of the sport by reading it. I have been diving for 40 years and put my experience into it. I am 58 now, and I dread the time when I can’t make it diving. I don’t see it coming soon, as I feel like a kid when I am out there. I love to hunt, and I love to fish and spear fishing is like the two of them put together! The ab diving is just diving down and prying off a fw abalone and coming up. Pretty boring when compared to spearfishing, but I still like it. Well, clam away!