Several species of clams are harvested commercially on
the US Pacific coast. The razor clam and the Pismo
clam live on the open wave-swept ocean beaches.
Although both of these species were originally harvested
commercially, the growing trend toward recreational
fisheries has resulted in a disappearing commercial
fishery. Only a few areas remain on the Washington
coast where commercial harvesting of razor clams is still
permitted; but each weekend during the open season up
to 25,000 recreational diggers attack the beaches
hoping to obtain their limit of 18 clams each.
Other species grouped in the category of "hard" clams
found in protected bays and inlets provide a significant
commercial fishery. Species include the native
littleneck or rock clam, the butter clam, and the
introduced Japanese littleneck or "Manila'' clam.
The commercial demand for hard-shell clams is very
good and prices are high in comparison to oysters.
Production does not meet the demand and significant
quantities of hard-shell clams are imported from British
Columbia, Canada. There is very little "farming'' of these
clams and production is based on harvesting natural
populations, principally upon privately-owned or
privately-leased intertidal lands.
Clam production on the US Pacific coast is centered in
Washington with production ranging from 400,000 to
nearly 1 million pounds of clam meat per year.
The few protected bays and inlets along the Oregon
coast produced between 100,000 and 200,000 pounds
of clam meat per year for the period 1948-55 and have
since dropped to a relatively low level.
Commercial clam production in California was never
great and has been negligible in recent years.
A commercial fishery for Pismo clams in the vicinity of
Pismo Beach existed from 1916-1947 with an average
annual harvest of almost 100,000 clams. (some info
From West Coast Clam Fan James Hourihan :
I currently live in Tacoma/Seattle, Washington, and am
an avid clam digger. Since I was raised back in
Connecticut, and spent lots of time digging clams there
and in Rhode Island, I am familiar with many of the
places to eat on your site, and appreciate the photos,
as it brings back good memories.
Out here on the Pacific, we really have two “good”
clams. You might want to consider a little item on the
Washington Razor Clam, which we get to dig about
eight times a year, because regulations limit the
harvest. They fry up perfectly with Krustez Brand Frying
Mix (Blue box), and make a great clam fritter.
The other clams I like to dig, are the “Cockles” which
are more like quahogs, and grow to 3 to 4 inches in
size. I clean these all up, after letting them soak in extra
seawater for 2-3 hours to clean themselves.
Then, I just chop up smoked bacon, sweet onions, fresh
parsley from the garden, chopped fresh garlic, and a ½
stick of good quality butter, into a Dutch oven pan, and
put them in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes. With
a loaf of fresh hot bread, this makes the perfect, lazy
man’s clam casino.