I was lucky enough to be invited by Gold Beach’s resident seaweed expert Dan Sawyer to go clamming during the extreme minus tides last week.
It was awesome.
My previous experience with clamming was in Yaquina Bay; picking up limits of cockles with my friend Austin and his parents.
Clamming with Dan was a little more challenging.
I can’t tell you where we went because I promised Dan I wouldn’t, but I will tell you it was north of Gold Beach.
After parking the car we began our descent into Dan’s secret clam sanctuary.
When I say descent, I don’t mean a short jaunt zig-zagging back and forth down some switch back trail, I mean dropping 300 feet down a trail with a rope to hold onto and a prayer in your heart that your worn-out shoes won’t let go of the rain-slicked hillsides and send you plummeting to your sure death.
Well, maybe I wouldn’t have died, Dan was ahead of me and I’m pretty sure he would have broken my fall.
You have to understand my experience in Newport was simple: Walk out into the bay at low tide, feel around in the muck for a bump and pick it up; bam, you have a cockle.
I was thinking this would be just as easy. It wasn’t.
Ultimately it was more satisfying though.
We looked for tells, watched for the clams to squirt, or just got lucky, and then we dug.
Dan was good with the shovel and after he almost passed on our first “tells” (aren’t you glad we dug that spot Dan?) we found a limit of gapers and five good sized butter clams in one spot.
It was easy. Well, it was easy because Dan dug the first hole and I just picked up the clams as we found them.
After digging a few more tells and getting our second limit — 12 gapers per person — we climbed out just ahead of the incoming tide.
I’m hoping to be lucky enough to go back soon.