The cold waters of the Puget Sound produce some of the world’s greatest tasting clams and oysters. Washington State is home to a variety of clams including the Manila and native littleneck clam, butter clam, varnish clam, cockle, horse clam, macoma clam, razor clam, and, last but not least, the world-famous giant geoduck clam.
Washington state has plenty of public access beach shoreline available for clam diggers. But before you grab that shovel and bucket, make sure you can identify the various species of clams and know the regulations. This is very important because harvesting regulations vary by the species and certain clams, such as the butter clam, tend to accumulate biotoxins more readily than other species.
Harvesting clams require a low tide. Certain clams, such as the geoduck, require an extreme low tide (and lots of hard digging) whereas cockles and other clams are closer to the surface and can be harvested easily at moderate low tides with hand tools.
In the above photo, the clam on the upper left is a butter clam, the upper right is a purple varnish clam, the lower left is a manila clam. and the lower right is a cockle.