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Oregon Coast Fishing Report
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Oregon Tuna Classic

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Oregon Coast Fishing Report
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Digging for Bay Clams on the Oregon Coast
Fishing Reports

bayclams1Oregon estuaries are rich with many species of clams, although only a few of these species are commonly harvested. Gaper, butter, cockle, littleneck, and softshell are primarily harvested due to their abundance, size, and taste. A wide variety of other bivalve species are found in Oregon estuaries, but not commonly harvested due either to their scarcity or lack of palatability.

Successful clamming does require some knowledge and preparation. Before clamming, harvesters should be aware of weather, regulations, closures, responsible harvest, and techniques.

Clam Species that you will find on the Oregon Coast:

Gaper Clams

GasperTresus capax are found in several Oregon estuaries.They are known by a variety of names including blue, empire, horse and horseneck clams.They are Oregon's largest common clam. Geoducks can grow much larger (as much as 10 pounds!) but are rarely found south of Puget Sound in Washington. There are two species of gaper clams in Oregon. Tresus capax is by far the most common, Tresus nuttalli is found in most estuaries that have gapers but are rarely harvested.

Daily Limit: 12, out of a total of 20 bay clams
Use: Clam steaks, chowder
Digging Method: shovel
Habitat: high salinity sandy and/or muddy areas
Where to Dig: Tillamook, Netarts, Yaquina, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos

Butter Clams

ButterSaxidomus giganteus are found throughout Oregon's nearshore areas and larger estuaries. Butter clams are excellent burrowers and are found abundantly in shell, sandstone, and even rocky areas, however due to the ease of digging, butter clams are most often harvested in sand and mud substrates. Butter clams are most often found in large estuarine systems, such as Coos, Tillamook, and Yaquina, because of their higher salinity preference. They are known by a variety of names including Washingtons, Martha Washingtons, Beefsteak, Quahog.

Daily Limit: 20, in aggregate with other bay clams
Use: chowder, steamed, steaks
Digging Method: shovel, potato fork
Habitat: high salinity gravel, mud, or sandy areas
Where to Dig: Tillamook, Netarts, Yaquina, Coos

Cockle

CockleThe most common cockle found in Oregon is the "Heart cockle". This common name relates to its scientific name Clinocardium nuttallii. Translated from Latin this name means "Nutall's sloping heart". The species name "Nuttallii" comes from the person who first described the species. Thomas Nuttall was a well respected botanist, orinthologist, and explorer of the 19th century. While exploring the Pacific Northwest in an 1830s expedition, the heart cockle was among the specimens he collected and described. Those familiar with taxonomy will likely recognize his surname from several species of flowers and birds.

Daily Limit: 20, in aggregate with other bay clams
Use: chowder, steamed
Digging Method: rake, hand
Habitat:high salinity sandy areas
Where to Dig: Tillamook, Netarts, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Coos

Softshell Clams

SoftshellMya arenari occur in almost all of Oregon's estuaries and their range can extend very high into the estuary. In Coos Bay, for example they are found commonly in places as far as 30 miles from the ocean inlet.

Softshell clams are native to the East coast, where they are an important commercial fishery. They are believed to have been introduced to Oregon in the late 1800s, timed with the attempt to begin a fishery for the eastern oyster.

Daily Limit: 36
Use: chowder, steamed, steaks
Digging Method: shovel, clam gun
Habitat: Brackish , muddy areas
Where to Dig: Necanicum, Nehalem, Tillamook, Netarts, Nestucca, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos, Coquille

Oregon Sport Regulations Summary for Marine Shellfish and Invertebrates

License Required to Take Marine Shellfish for Those 14 Years or Older
Limits and/or open areas may change. Call ODFW for current information. (503) 947-6000 | Toll Free: (800) 720-ODFW | TTY: (503) 947-6339

The following summarized regulations apply to the Pacific Ocean, coastal bays, and beaches. For complete information, Sport Fishing Regulations books may be obtained at ODFW offices and wherever licenses are sold.

OPEN SEASON: Entire year and at all hours. Exceptions are listed under “Harvest Methods and Restrictions” in the table below, and except when any state agency has issued a public health advisory. To learn about current health advisories, contact Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, 800-448-2474.

OPEN AREAS: All areas are open except Marine Gardens, Research Reserves, Habitat Refuges, and Shellfish Preserves. These areas have signs indicating their locations and are listed and mapped in the Sport Fishing Regulations book.

UNLAWFUL TO:

  1. Waste fish, shellfish or marine invertebrates.
  2. Use chemicals to take fish, shellfish or marine invertebrates.
  3. Assist in the harvest of another person’s catch except under a Disabled Clam Digger Permit or a Permanent Disabilities Permit.
  4. Sell any sport caught fish or shellfish, except the skeletal remains of nongame marine fish.

Check Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) shellfish status page- for closure information.

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