Clamming (digging clams for food) is a popular activity on Alaska's beaches. You can find Arctic razor clams on sandy tidal beaches from the Bering Sea all the way to Cook Inlet. Beaches between Kasilof and Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula are the most popular clamming spots in the state.
Razor Clams are filter feeders which rely on plankton for food. Mature clams are typically a yellowish brown, oblong and can grow up to 12 inches in length. The interior shell is pearly white. Razor clams are prized for their meat which is considered particularly delicious and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Recreational clammers harvest about one million clams each year from the beaches along Cook Inlet, while commercial ventures take approximately 500,000 pounds every year.
The razor clam population is healthy in Alaska, though shellfish are susceptible to parasites and worms. Generally, thorough cooking and cleaning allows for safe consumption. Health and harvest of razor clams are managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and game.
- Anyone aged 16 or older must have a valid Alaska sport fishing license to dig clams.
- You can dig for clams during any low tide, but a tide of minus two feet or lower is recommended for the greatest success.
- State law requires you keep all clams dug up regardless of size or condition.
- The daily limit for clams taken can vary. Contact the Department of Fish and Game for more information. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=razorclam.main
Each summer some clammers inevitably find themselves in danger of being stranded by the incoming tide when water floods the area between the beach and the sand bars where the clams are being harvested. Rescue is not always prompt and is sometimes impossible. Stranded diggers are at risk for developing hypothermia or drowning in the cold waters throughout Alaska, especially in the Cook inlet where we have a bore tide. Stay alert to tide levels, return to shore early and be safe! Tide schedule books are available at the Anchorage Alaska Public Lands Information Center.
To learn more about the extreme tides in the Cook Inlet visit our Bore Tides page.