Once you have checked the regulations, purchased a license, bought your equipment (gauge, shovel for digging and 5 gallon bucket or other container for your shellfish), and made sure that there are no closures on your beach, you are ready go! Check the tide tables online, in newspapers, or in tide booklets, and plan to dig when the tide is low enough to access the beach. Only dig on your own beach or a beach open for public shellfish gathering. Dig carefully and try not to break or crush any shells with your shovel. Measure your catch to be sure it is legal. If any clams you dig are under the legal size, replace them in the harvest hole with the neck upwards, and cover them shallowly. When finished, fill in all your holes to protect shellfish and people. Wash your catch with clean salt water, cool your shellfish to keep them safe and fresh, and enjoy them using your favorite recipes!
SHELLFISH HARVESTING CHECKLIST:
- Check for closures just before you leave by calling the 24-hour Shellfish Safety Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish
- Harvest shellfish as soon as possible with the receding (outgoing) tide.
- Don’t harvest shellfish that have been exposed to the sun for more than one hour (less in really hot weather).
- Keep shellfish cold after harvesting.