Dig for clams simply with your hands in the Bay.
There are several types of clams you can dig in the area around The Jetty Fishery. All clamming in Oregon requires a shellfish license. These licenses are available for both Oregon and Non-Oregon residents and can be purchased for either 3-day or 1-year increments for Oregon residents or 3-day for out-of-state residents.
Right in the Nehalem Bay itself are two different types of clams you can catch– the Purple Varnish and the Eastern Soft Shell. Both of these clams can be dug with either your hands or a shovel, or a combination of both. Every person clamming must have a bucket/bag or vessel to hold their own clams.
The limit on Eastern Soft Shellclam types are 36 per person.
The Limit on Purple Varnish clam are 72 per person!
The Purple Varnish clams may be dug almost directly across the bay from the Jetty Fishery on the Nehalem Bay Sand Spit. These clams are small to medium in size and require soaking in saltwater after catching in order to expel most of the sand. It is important that you don’t soak your clams in a small bucket of saltwater as they will breathe out all of the oxygen in the water and die. You can prepare Purple Varnish much like Steamer clams, or you can clean and cook them like larger varieties like Eastern Soft Shell or Razor clams. The clams take their name from their shiny and “varnished” looking shell, which is thin but quite strong.
The Eastern Soft Shell clams can be found directly across the bay as well as all the way up the river to the southern edge of the little town of Wheeler. These clams can also be dug with a shovel and hands combination and the same carrying and limit rules apply as to the Purple Varnish. These clams tend to be medium to large in size and are best cleaned and eaten rather than steamed and eaten. Eastern Soft Shells have a white and chalky shell that breaks easily and can be quite sharp.
North of the Jetty Fishery from Seaside, OR to Gerhart, OR you can dig for Razor Clams. This clam can actually move through the sand, so a shovel or “clam gun” is most handy The limit on Razor Clams is 15 per person, and each clammer must carry their own clams. These clams are usually medium to large in size and give a nice, cleaned clam “steak” perfect for grilling or frying.
South of the Jetty Fishery, in Tillamook Bay, you can catch a variety of clams– gapers, steamers, and cockles. Clamming for these varieties is best done with a rake and/or shovel. The clams tend to be found in a combination of gravel, rocks, and bay mud and can only be accessed the lower tides.
The Jetty Fishery rents clam guns, shovels, and rakes as well as buckets and also sells goody bags. shellfish licenses and other fishing/clamming paraphernalia.