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  • Writer's pictureKatja

Clam Digging in Westport, WA

When I was a child, I remember seeing people out on the beaches of Vashon digging for clams. The excitement drew my attention, but it always seemed like something other families did. Over the years, I heard of people going out to the coast for different fishing times and shellfish harvests, and I was curious but never took action myself. In 2020, I spent several weekends assisting my landlord on his geoduck farm, and I grew more curious about what it would take to harvest my own seafood. So finally, this year, I kept a close eye on the news and approved dates for Razor Clamming in Westport, Washington, and made it happen!

Having never been out to Westport, I booked two nights at a pet friendly (ish) hotel. Mariner’s Cove Inn was a delightful place to stay—I strongly recommend it for those looking for a clean, peaceful, central location in the area. Expedia and the property apparently had different interpretations of “pet friendly” accommodations, but luckily the manager/owner was very kind and allowed me and the dogs to settle into our room with lots of assurances that all three of us would behave and not make too big of a mess. My friend Sara would join us late in the morning so it was an early bedtime so we could be up early for a few hours of work and exploring the area. With the tide low for clamming after 7pm, we had a full day to adventure.

Westport Light State Park was definitely a favorite with long stretches of beach, paved and dirt trails, and the constant rumble of the ocean waves breaking along the shore. The town of Westport and the docks were abundant with maritime history and fresh seafood galore. Even with the winter weather, people were out waking their dogs along the beaches and paddling out to surf the rough waves.

A few hours before low tide, Sara and I gathered our permits and gear and headed out to find the Razor Clams. We drove along the beach to an area we had scouted out earlier in the day and were pleased to see other clammers gathering along the beach, confirming that we were in the right spot. After some false starts (neither of us had any real experience), watching others dig up clam after clam while we kept trying to find a first, and having a kind local woman take pity on us and offer us some pointers, we began bringing up clams. Sara mastered the clam gun (a device made of PVC pipe that pulls up tubes of sand) and I learned that my hands were far better than the shovel at plunging deep into the wet sand in pursuit of the fleeing critters.

As the sun went down, we reached our limits (15 each) and made our way back to the car. We toasted our success with brews and marshmallows around a warm fire before heading back to the hotel to shower off the sand and get some well earned rest. The clams were gently wrapped in a seawater soaked towel and carefully placed on top of ice for the night and the drive home the following day.

I wish I had not waited so long in life to have this experience or to visit such a beautiful place, but I am thankful for the opportunity to get away for a few days and try something new to me.

I would like to acknowledge the Willapa Chinook and Lower Chehalis people, who have loved and stewarded this land since time immemorial. While the experience of clamming and walking the beaches of Westport are new to me, many have come before me and I hope many have the opportunity to come after. P.S. YouTube was an excellent source of information on how to harvest, clean, and prepare the Razor Clams. And yes, they were delicious!

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