Crabbing and clamming catch-all

So I was chatting to a family I met camping on the Puget Sound coast last weekend, and they were talking about crabbing, and I thought to myself: I like eating crabs more than I like paying for crabs, and any excuse to go muck about on the coast is a good thing.

So I think I'm going to get me a crabpot or two and start crabbing next season. I'd be catching Dungeness and Red Rock crabs around my way.

Likewise for clam digging (manilla, razor, butter).

Anyone else taken a stab at these silly delicious hobbies and have any wisdom to share?

I've done a bit of clam digging in the past. The big thing is to make sure there are no algae bloom warnings in effect. Shellfish poisoning is bad news.

Also you probably need some sort of fishing license? I'm not sure how things work down in Washington but you definitely need a license up here.

Yeah, licence up here too, but it's not expensive and can be gotten online from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Good point on the algal bloom. I know that a lot of the non-clamming beaches I go to nearby have very clear signage instructing you not to eat shellfish on that beach unless you want everything inside you coming out of you.

When I went crabbing in NC, a couple of crab pots and a cast net (or fishing pole) with license meant you were ready to go. To get bait I'd either stand on a dock with my cast net and wait for a school of mullet to pass, or use the trash fish (like pinfish) I'd catch while fishing. I'd kill the fish, make a couple of slashes on their sides with my fishing knife, and stuff them in the bait area of the trap. After dropping the pots in they'd be full of blue crabs within a day or so.

I assume crabbing is pretty much the same for other kinds of crab. It's very easy stuff with crab pots. Looks like Washington has very specific guidelines for where, when, how, etc. but they explain them well.

Lou's got you on the crabs. The only crabbing I've done is from boats, but it's the same general procedure.

Here's the list of clamming openings through December:

They also have a fairly good set of instructions:

Couple things to remember about razor clams in particular. They're frelling FAST. Once your shovel hits the sand it's a race.

Also, if the name didn't make it plain, they are sharp along the edge away from the hinge. The shell is more fragile than you might expect, too. Take care when you grab one. If you crush the shell you'll kill the clam. Make sure you don't grab it by the siphon; it'll just rip off and that will also kill the clam.

Like most clams, you have to keep them alive until you clean them. So put them in a bucket of sea water to take home. They do have to be "cleaned", rather than just steamed and eaten whole out of the shell. There's instructions up on the website in the links that are pretty good.

We were quite poor when I was young growing up in southern New Jersey, across from Philly. There were a couple cheap/free things my mother would do with us as a family thing and one of them was crabbing. She's take us to The Shore and we'd tie rope to sticks and tie the other end of the rope around bunker.

Sitting on the edge of the pier, we would let the bunker down and hold it for a while then slowly pull it up and hope there was a crab or 2 hanging on. If so, we'd use long-handled nets we borrowed from my grandfather to scoop them up.

That was around 45 years ago, but thinking about it brings back great memories and some sadness for the people who aren't around anymore.

My uncle had some crab traps so he would bring them if he went with us. I remember rectangular ones and pyramid ones. Not as fun for a kid, but more productive if you're going for straight quantity.

As much as I love clams - raw, steamed, fried, etc. - I've never been clamming. I do remember the once a year party my father would throw for his work where he'd send someone to The Shore to pick up a TON of clams and we'd devour them raw and steamed by the bucketful. I was a sad boy if I weren't at Dad's house that weekend.


I'm gonna be using the boat we made to crab next year alongside salmon fishing. No time this year unfortunately. Supposedly, crabbing has been good this year out of Newport.