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Confessions of a Maine Clam Digger

Updated on July 9, 2009

Clam Diggers: A Way of Life and Livelihood on the Coast of Maine

Most regions of the country and the world have some unique ways of earning a living. Digging for clams in the coastal waters of Maine is a rugged way of life and often, as with commercial fishing, is passed down through generations of coastal families.

Clamming is also a great summer recreational activity, for families and visitors and a great way to get some exercise and fresh air in a beautiful setting.

Here is my lens salute to those hard working people who supply us with fresh clams all summer long, for our fried clam baskets and steamers!

The Isle of Squid

Maine Clam Diggers in Action

The Maine Method of Clamming

F.Y.I.

In Maine clamming is done using a "clam hoe" or "rake," a "roller" and hip boots.

* The "clam hoe" is a pitchfork, cut-off approximately 18' from the tines and then bent at a 70 degree angle.

*The "roller" is a 1/2 bushel basket, built using wood lathes or wire and is used to carry the clams and to hold them for rinsing off.

*The hip boots keep the legs and feet warm and dry, as the tides are coming in, or going out, the water is very cold, even in the summer and the clam flats are often very mucky.

(Photo Courtesy of Flickr)

How to Dig for Maine Clams

For Fun or Profit

If you're coming to Maine for a vacation and looking for something fun to do at the coast, why not take the family clam digging. An inexpensive way to gather your dinner, and delicious, whether steamed or fried.

*Clamming is fairly easy to do and clams in Maine are plentiful. What better way to enjoy a nice summer day on the ocean with your family?

*First thing to do is stop by the local town office and get a license. Some towns sell a special day license for clamming and will be happy to tell you where you can go to find clams locally and what areas may be restricted.

*Next, you need your equipment, although it doesn't have to be very elaborate. You will need a clam basket, or small bucket to hold your clams in and a clam rake or something to dig with. Make sure you have gloves on, as the clam shells are very sharp.

*You need to go to the clam flats, at low tide, or when the tide is going out, so consult the local tide charts, available at many places including the internet.

*Okay, now you're at the clam flats, what next? Just walk around and look for holes in the sand/mud, approximately the circumference of your index finger. Then dig down approximately 12 inches and you've got your clam! Be careful not to break the clam while digging and watch out for the sharp edges.

*Now that you've got the technique down, your goal is to try to harvest enough for a meal, before the tide comes in again and washes away your opportunity.

*Even if you are not fortunate enough to gather your dinner, you've had a great time in the fresh, ocean air and some great exercise. Be thankful you're not doing it to earn a living! You can always stop at the local clam shack for a fried clam basket, or a lobster and steamers.

(Photo Courtesy of Flickr)

The Maine Clam Flats

The Maine Clam Flats
The Maine Clam Flats

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Maine Coastal Guide

Great Destinations The Coast of Maine Book, April 17, 2001

By A Customer

My family and I recently visited Maine and in preparation we purchased Great Destinations The Coast of Maine Book to get an idea of what we wanted to see. I found this book to be very clear and concise. It was extremely helpful in giving us an overview of what we wanted to see and do whilst in Maine. The coastline was as beautiful as the book depicted and I would recommend buying this book and also visiting this tremendous State.

The Coast of Maine Book, Fourth Edition: A Complete Guide (Great Destinations)
The Coast of Maine Book, Fourth Edition: A Complete Guide (Great Destinations)

Great Destinations The Coast of Maine Book, April 17, 2001

By A Customer

My family and I recently visited Maine and in preparation we purchased Great Destinations The Coast of Maine Book to get an idea of what we wanted to see. I found this book to be very clear and concise. It was extremely helpful in giving us an overview of what we wanted to see and do whilst in Maine. The coastline was as beautiful as the book depicted and I would recommend buying this book and also visiting this tremendous State.

 

Group Discussion and Comments - Thank You!

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    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I've gone clam digging in North Carolina. I like when they spit.

    • Millionairemomma profile image

      Millionairemomma 5 years ago

      Interesting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      fairly easy to do???? come on up and see how easy to do it really when your doing it for a living at .80 cents a pound

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've never dug for clams because I don't much care for seafood! I live in Keene, NH, and do get up to Maine occasionally. Right now, however, I'm in Brazil and writing about that here on Squidoo!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Check out my links to photos of Maine Clammers working in winter! They cut into the ice with chain saws, moved the chunks and broke them up with pry bars and axes and then dug under for the clams -- in an area recently opened up!

      Here's the link!

      http://rogerduncanphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/S...

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      how those underacheivers doing now!first place i think!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hi, I develop advance marine technologies that might be of use with claming at least walking on the Clam Flats if anyone is interested and needing help being able to increase there productivity send me a line.

      chris@tacticaloperationstech.com

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hi I would like to become a clamer for a living, can someone one point me to someone that can help me get started clamming in Maine?

      Thank you

      sderdau@gmail.com

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Living in the hot, humid south, Maine has always fascinated me. I would love to go clam digging along the beach.

      Great lens.

      Lizzy

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great Lens 5* and welcome to Travelmania Group!

      Tapir Travel

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great Lens 5* and welcome to Travelmania Group!

      Tapir Travel