How to Dig for Steamer Clams


There are many different types of clams. Some have thin, soft shells, some have hard, thick shells or quahogs, some are small and some are giants. They are all considered mollusks. Clams live in saltwater, freshwater and muddy areas near water. They burrow into the sand or mud and move about over the bottom by expelling water from their shell. People enjoy eating clams and digging to get them on the beach, in the water or in muddy creeks.

Step 1

Wear knee high boots or sandals. Good foot protection is essential. If you are digging for clams in freshwater, sandals are better.

Step 2

Look into the clear water at the edge of the shore. When you are digging clams in a fine sandy area, you will see the clam's neck which looks like a figure 8. It is able to stretch its neck about 8 inches from the base of the clam in the mud. When it senses a digger's presence, the neck will go down like a periscope deeply into the mud to protect itself.

Step 3

Put your finger in the figure 8. Feel the tunnel to where the neck of the clam is and dig down into it. Start digging the sand away from the area so you can get down deeper to lift the clam out. When your finger has gone 6 inches deep into the sand, slow down on your digging. You do not want to crush the clam or you do not want to scratch or possibly cut your fingers. You can start easing the clam out. You might have a tough time doing it, but you can get it out.

Step 4

Grub into muddy water. With your gloves, bend forward and dig half an inch into the mud. You will feel the clams in groups and you can collect them easily.

Step 5

Fork them out. Using clam hoes, dig into the sand and lift the clams out of the water. Put the clams in a bucket or a wire basket. Wash them one by one, especially clams collected from muddy water.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not dig for clams when there is a red tide warning. Clams should never be eaten when a red tide is posted.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Wire basket
  • Gloves
  • Knee high boots/sandals
  • Clam rake
  • Clam hoes


  • University of Rhode Island: Quahog
  • Travelocity: Shellfish
  • Mother Earth News: Make a Living Alongshore ... Digging Clams
Keywords: steam clams, clam rake, clam hoes, digging for clams

About this Author

Giselle Diamond is a freelance writer and has been writing since 1999. Diamond is experienced in writing in all genres and subjects, with distinguished experience in home and garden, culture and society, literature and psychology. Diamond has a Master of Arts in English and psychology from New York University. Diamond has articles published on both eHow and LiveStrong.

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