Digging clams is a year round sport at Alsea Bay, and it’s an activity that anyone can try their luck at. All you need is a shovel, a bucket and a tall pair of rubber boots and you can start digging for a variety of clams that are found on the beaches near Yachats. Alsea Bay is about eight miles north of Yachats and a 15-minute drive. The best digging is in the spring, at minus tides of two-feet or better.
Park your car at the Alsea Bay Interpretive Center or along Highway 34 and walk to the beach from there. The best times of day to clam are at low tide or slack tide, when more wet sand is exposed. The most populous clam beds are on sandy beaches.
There are generally three types of clams you’ll find at Alsea Bay: softshell clams, cockles and purple varnish. Softshell clams are usually easy to find and dig out. They are often found in the northern part of the bay. Cockles are hard-shelled clams, and are found closer to the water than softshell clams. They’re also easier to spot, too, as cockles can sometimes be seen close to the surface of the sand. Both softshell and cockles are eaten alone or in dishes like clam chowder. A fresh bowl of soup made from clams you dug yourself is the ultimate Oregon Coast experience.
Like fishing or crabbing, there are restrictions to clamming. There are limits to how many clams you can take home each day, depending on the species. Alsea Bay is generally open year round, but there can be restrictions to the harvest. Check the ODFW website or call its hotline (503-986-4728) before you head to out to make sure. You will also need a shellfish permit before you go, which can be purchased locally. Be aware of your surroundings while you’re clamming, as the tide can easily change, and Alsea Bay is known for having strong outgoing tides.