I met Rory Anderson through Twitter. Rory has an unabashed love for the Outer Banks and it is evident in his online social media. He recently shared with me a video of he and his son clamming on the Outer Banks and I asked him if he would mind telling us about his techniques. Below are some pointers on clam digging on the Outer Banks.
If you've never done it before, clamming can be great exercise and a way to spend time with the family. What you need are specially designed rakes that have a little catch basket to catch the mollusk when you rake through the sand and snag one. If you don't have equipment, a few places rent the rakes along with the floating bushel basket to hold your catch. I've both rented and found some great used equipment on Craigslist.
The best places to find clams are in the flats of the sound. The best locations I have had good catches from Rodanthe all the way down to Hatteras. You can walk out into the water from any of the access points. The best spots may be a little brackish. However, believe it or not, they do migrate, so where they are today, they may not be tomorrow. It's also a good idea to wear old sneakers or water shoes, because there is a chance of cutting your foot on a broken shell.
The video is from Frisco NC.
You walk out into the sound anywhere from knee deep to waist deep water and put your rake into the sand. There are a couple techniques but I have found the best and easiest is to put the rake in the sand and push. You will hear it and feel it through the rake handle when a rake tine hits a clam. You then go past it, and pull the rake toward yourself quickly to avoid the filter feeder from digging deeper into the sand. Then you flip the rake over so as to catch the clam in the rake basket.
As of this writing, the size limit for clams is 1 inch thick and 100 clams per day per person, but not to exceed 200 clams per day. You do not need a coastal fishing license.
If the clam is legal size, you just put it in your floating bucket and rake for more. One thing to note, if you're putting a small clam back, be sure not to simply toss the clam or drop it in the water. Try to cover it in the sand as; birds will see this as easy meal.
Once you've collected enough clams, they are easy to make. Just put them in a pot with water about an inch or so deep and boil it, when the clams open, they are done! Serve with melted butter (and beer).