Peninsula's west side ideal for clamming

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001

The west coast of the Kenai Peninsula is ground-zero for clammers in the summer. While the king clam, the razor, can be taken year-round, most people prefer the relative comfort of summertime clamming.

This year, the regulations have been changed regarding bag and possession limits. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the bag limit from the Kenai River south to the tip of the Homer Spit is 45 razors, with 90 in possession. In all other Cook Inlet waters, there is no bag or possession limit.

Other clams in Cook Inlet include butter clams -- which have a bag limit of 700 -- and littleneck clams, with a bag limit of 1,000. Both come with minimum size restrictions.

Bag limits include every clam you dig up, no matter how smashed or small. Enforcement officers routinely patrol beach exit roads. The two most common rule violations are digging without a license and exceeding the limit.

To dig razor clams, you'll need a sport-fishing license, a tide table, a narrow-bladed clam shovel, a bucket and a pair of rubber boots.

Razor clam beds become exposed on any minus tide, but the lowest low tides are the best for clam digging. The best digging is usually one hour before to two hours after a low tide.

To find a razor clam, look for the dimple it makes in the sand. The clam usually will be one to two feet below. Position the shovel blade three or four inches on the seaward side of the dimple and dig straight down. If you dig directly above the dimple or pry back on the shovel you'll smash the clam's fragile shell.

After removing three or four shovels full of sand, finish digging with your hands. Move quickly because clams utilize a suctioned "foot" to dig deeper into the sand and escape their predators.

Digging up the clams is only part of the job; once you come off the beach you still have to clean them, which is twice as much work, though half the fun.

Razor clams are excellent pan-fried, deep-fried and in chowder. Keep cooking time short, or you'll spend more time chewing than you spent digging and cleaning.

An easy way to preserve cleaned clams for the winter is by freezing them in plastic bags. Add a little water and squeeze out the air before sealing.

If you've never dug razor clams, pick up a free copy of "Kenai Peninsula Razor Clams" from the Fish and Game office.

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