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Let's Go Clam Digging!
Cape Cod MA Clamming Info

There's no better way to dine on the freshest-ever clams than by digging your own!

Wire basket filled with freshly dug clams

Whether you're craving cherrystones on the half-shell or a homemade batch of chowder loaded with your own freshly-dug quahogs ... they all taste sweeter when you dig 'em yourself!


Before you head out on your clamming adventure, you'll need a few things:

  • A clam rake;

  • A basket or bucket;

  • A clam gauge for measuring your catch; and

  • A shellfishing permit.


You can pick up the basic clamming equipment at any local tackle shop. A local tide chart is helpful, too, because the easiest digging is at low tide. 

Here's where to get your permit ...

Town-by-Town Shellfishing Permit Information


Each town on the Cape has its own rules and regulations for digging clams - and their own fee schedule for the required shellfishing permit, too.

Here's a summary of each town's permit costs, purchase info, and harvest limits for quohog and soft-shell ("steamer") clam digging.

Important Notes:

* The information on this page relates specifically to recreational (non-commercial) shellfishing. That means, the bounty you harvest from the sea is for your own, personal family use only.

* The "harvest limits" shown below are for soft-shell clams and quahogs only. Different limits may apply to the harvesting of scallops, oysters, mussels, etc.

* Clamming regulations, permit costs and purchase locations, open and closed shellfishing areas, etc. may change from time to time at the town's discretion. Be sure to click the "More Info" links for town-specific details before you make any plans.

* Please, please, please - don't even think of taking any shellfish without the required permit. If you're caught, the consequences can be pretty nasty. It's definitely not worth the risk!


Bourne MA

  • $35 resident/taxpayer family of the towns of Bourne and Sandwich
  • $10 senior resident
  • $175 Massachusetts resident

A "resident" is a citizen who is domiciled or owns taxable real property in the Towns of Bourne or Sandwich.

A "senior" is a person who is at least 65 years of age. The Senior permit holder must be present and actively harvesting shellfish. If other domiciled family members also wish to participate independently, then a Resident permit must be obtained.

A "Massachusetts resident" is a citizen who is domiciled within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

A “family” is a person or group of persons, whether or not related by blood or marriage, which share a common domicile. Only one permit is issued per family.

FYI: A Native American permit (free) is issued to a citizen who is of Native American heritage and domiciled or owns taxable real property in the Towns of Bourne or Sandwich.

Note: I can't find any maximum harvest limit shown in the town's shellfishing regulations. Be sure to find out how many clams you can take, before you go clamming!

Permits may be purchased at: Bourne Department of Natural Resources

More Info: Bourne Shellfishing


Sandwich MA

When I spoke with the Town Clerk's Office, I learned that recreational shellfishing in Sandwich is very limited, both in open dates and locations where shellfishing is allowed.

My best advice is to contact the Clerk's Office (see below) to find out if shellfishing will be open while you're here. If it's not, then consider heading to Bourne, the town next door, to dig for your clams.

Call or visit:

Town Clerk's Office
Town Hall Annex
145 Main Street
Sandwich, MA 02563
(508) 888-0340


Mashpee, MA

  • $25 resident/taxpayer family
  • $6 senior resident/taxpayer family
  • $80 non-resident family (MA residents only)

A "resident/taxpayer" is a person who is a resident of and domiciled in Mashpee, or owns a home, condominium, or property in the Town of Mashpee and pay taxes to the Town. Proof of residency or ownership is required.

A "senior" is a person who has turned age 62 before March 1 of the year the permit is issued.

A "non-resident" is a person who is a resident of and domiciled in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Proof of Massachusetts residency will be required.

Permit fees are waived for holders of a Wampanoag Tribal ID card. (Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal ID cards cannot be used for shellfishing.)

Family permits are issued to single or married individuals 16 years of age or older for the express use of obtaining shellfish for personal use. A family permit is for the use of the permit holder, his or her spouse, and their minor-aged children (under 18 years old) living and domiciled under the same roof. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Harvest limits - For soft-shell clams, one peck per week. For quahogs, two pecks per week. The total amount that may be taken in one week is not to exceed one bushel of any or all kinds of shellfish.

Shellfishing permits are available: online or in person at Mashpee Town Clerk's Office

More Info: Mashpee Shellfishing


Falmouth, MA

  • $25 resident/taxpayer family
  • $5 senior resident
  • $80 non-resident

A "resident/taxpayer" is an individual who resides in the town of Falmouth or who owns property and pays real estate taxes to the town of Falmouth.

A "senior" is an individual who is at least 65 years of age.

Family permits are valid for use by spouse and minor children of the individual to whom the permit is issued only. Others may accompany a permit holder while shellfishing, but only one limit per permit may be taken.

Harvest limits - For soft-shell clams, 10 quarts may be taken per week. For quahogs, 10 quarts may be taken per day but not more than 20 quarts in any one week. The total amount that may be taken in one week is not to exceed one bushel of any or all kinds of shellfish.

Shellfish permits are sold: by mail and online

More Info: Falmouth Shellfishing


Barnstable, MA

  • $40 resident
  • $30 senior resident
  • $140 non-resident
  • $70 seasonal (June 1 - August 31)

A "resident" is a citizen who is a resident of or pays real estate taxes in the Town of Barnstable.

A "non-resident" is a citizen who is resident and domiciled in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the same conditions as resident recreational permits apply, with the exception of Town of Barnstable residency.

A "senior" is an individual who has attained the age of 65.

"Seasonal" permits are issued regardless of residency and are effective from June 1 through August 31 for the year during which it's issued.

A family permit is issued on the basis of one per resident family (husband, wife and any unmarried children and grandchildren under the age of 18 domiciled and living under the same roof).

Harvest limits - For soft-shell clams, one level peck per week. For quahogs, one level peck per week. The total amount that may be taken in one week is not to exceed one bushel of any or all kinds of shellfish.

Shellfishing permits are sold:  Through the town's online permitting system.

More Info: Shellfishing in Barnstable


Yarmouth, MA

  • $30 resident/taxpayer
  • $15 senior resident/taxpayer
  • $80 non-resident

A "resident/taxpayer" is a person who resides in the town or pays real estate taxes to the town of Yarmouth.

A "senior" is a person who is at least 75 years of age.

Only one shellfish permit is issued per household. The shellfish permit is for the holder's own family use.

Harvest limits - For soft-shell clams, one level 10-quart wire basket per week. For quahogs, one level 10-quart wire basket per week. The total amount that may be taken in one week is not to exceed one bushel of any or all kinds of shellfish.

Permits may be purchased at: Yarmouth Town Clerk's Office

More Info: Yarmouth Shellfishing


Dennis, MA

*Note: Town of Dennis waters are closed to quahog digging during the spring and summer months.

  • $20 resident/property owner household
  • $3 senior resident household
  • $65 non-resident

A "resident/property owner" is a person who is 18 years of age or over and a year-round resident and/or real estate tax payer in the Town of Dennis, and head of his or her household.

A "senior" is a person who is at least 70 years of age. The owner of a senior permit MUST be present during shellfishing.

A household permit may be used by the spouse or unmarried children of the holder.

Harvest limits - For soft-shell clams, a maximum of 10 quarts per week. For quahogs, a maximum of 10 quarts per week. Each permit is allowed only one limit per week.

Permits may be purchased at: Town of Dennis Natural Resources Office

More Info: Town of Dennis DNR


Harwich, MA

  • $30 resident/taxpayer
  • $15 senior resident/taxpayer
  • $70 non-resident
  • $30 non-resident 1-day

Any person who pays real estate taxes to the Town of Harwich, regardless of residency designation, is entitled to a family or a senior permit, subject to the above conditions.

A "senior" is anyone 65 years of age or older.

Resident Individual Senior Permits cannot be used by family members.

Persons entitled to use a Resident Family Shellfish Permit include the immediate members of the permit holders family only. ("Immediate" means family members living with and/or supported by the permit holder on a year-round basis.)

Harvest limits - One 10-quart pail of shellfish per week (combined total of all types of shellfish harvested).

Shellfishing licenses are available for purchase at:

The Office of the Harbormaster at Saquatucket Harbor

Route 28
Harwich Port
(508) 430-7532

More Info: Harwich Shellfishing


Brewster, MA

  • $25 resident/taxpayer
  • $5 senior resident/taxpayer
  • $20 weekly non-resident
  • $125 annual non-resident
  • Brave Act Veteran over age 70 (Lifetime License) $5.00
  • Brave Act Veteran Annual Shellfish $25.00

Persons entitled to a resident permit (one per family) must be a real estate taxpayer and/or legally domiciled person of the Town of Brewster and shall include the immediate members of their family only. ("Immediate" means a family member living with and/or supported by the taxpayer on a year-round basis.)

A "senior" is an individual over 70 years of age.

Harvest limits - For soft-shell Clams, 5 quarts per week. For quahogs, 10 quarts per week, including shells. Not to exceed 10 quarts total per week.

Shellfishing permits can be obtained: online or by mail

More Info: Brewster MA Shellfishing


Chatham, MA

  • $35 resident/taxpayer family
  • $15 senior resident/taxpayer family
  • $100 non-resident family

A resident family permit may be issued to any Chatham resident who is head of family.

A "senior" is someone who is seventy (70) years of age or older at the date of permit issuance.

A non-resident family permit may be issued to any non-resident who is head of family.

"Family" means married spouses and dependent(s), providing they are living in the same dwelling and the dependent has not reached the age of 21. No friends or other relatives (including grandchildren) may shellfish on the license.

Harvest limit - One 12-quart pail of softshell clams, or one 12-quart pail of quahaugs. The total amount that may be taken in one week is not to exceed one bushel of any or all kinds of shellfish.

Shellfishing permits are available: by mail and at the Sticker Office

More Info: Chatham Shellfishing


Orleans, MA

  • $20 resident family
  • $10 senior residents
  • $70 Massachusetts residents
  • $70 non-residents

A "resident" is a person domiciled in the Town of Orleans or Eastham, or a person not domiciled but owning real estate within the Town of Orleans.

A "non-resident" is a person not owning real estate in the Town of Orleans.

A "Massachusetts resident" is a person domiciled in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

A "senior" is a person who is 65 years of age or over.

A “family” consists of a husband, wife, and dependent(s), who are domiciled and living under the same roof.

Harvest limit - A total of one 10-quart pail of any and all kinds of shellfish per week, except for mussels, the taking of which shall not exceed one-half (1/2) bushel per week.

Get your permit: online or by mail (Note: the sticker office is closed for shellfishing permit sales in 2022)

More Info: Orleans Shellfishing


Eastham, MA

  • $25 resident/taxpayer
  • $12 senior resident
  • $75 seasonal
  • $30 7-day

A "resident/taxpayer" is a person who is domiciled in the Town of Eastham or Orleans, or a person not domiciled but owning real estate within the Town of Eastham.

A "senior" is a person who is sixty-five (65) years of age or over.

A "renter" is a person not owning real estate in the Town of Eastham or Orleans but who provides bona fide evidence of their rental or lodgings in the Town of Eastham.

A "non-resident" is a person not owning real estate in the Town of Eastham or Orleans nor renting lodging in the Town of Eastham.

A 7-day permit may be issued for any persons, which will be valid for a period of seven consecutive days.

Harvest limit - A total of one 10-quart pail per week of any and all kinds of shellfish.

Permits: available at the Eastham Sticker Office (call 508-240-5974 for details)

More Info: Eastham Shellfishing


Wellfleet, MA


Seasonal (June 1-Sept 30):

  • $40 resident/taxpayer
  • $85 non-resident

Annual (January 1-December 31):

  • $60 resident/taxpayer
  • $20 senior resident/taxpayer
  • $210 non-resident

Annual resident and/or taxpayer permits may be issued to any resident and/or taxpayer 12 years of age or older of the Town of Wellfleet (including proven owners and year-round renters of trailers permanently situated in the Town of Wellfleet).

A "senior" is a person who is over 65 years of age

Harvest limits - The total amount of soft-shell clams and quahogs taken in one week shall not exceed 10 quarts.

Permits: purchase online and pick up at beach sticker office at Wellfleet Town Pier

More Info: Wellfleet Shellfishing


Truro, MA

  • $15 resident/taxpayer
  • $100 non-resident
  • $25 1-week license
  • FREE senior residents

A "resident/taxpayer" is someone who resides in the Town of Truro, or who owns and pays taxes on property within the limits of the Town of Truro.

A "non-resident" is any other person, whether or not an inhabitant of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

A "senior" is an individual who is 59 years of age or older. Senior residents may obtain a lifetime shellfish permit for his or her own use, free of charge, by presenting proof of age.

Harvest limits - For soft-shell clams, one 10-quart bucket per day. For quahogs, one 10-quart bucket per day. If both clams and quahogs are taken, the limit is one 10-quart bucket per day. The total amount that may be taken in one week is not to exceed one bushel of any or all kinds of shellfish.

Buy your permit: online or in person at Truro Town Hall

More Info: Truro Shellfishing


Provincetown, MA

Provincetown is unique in that recreational shellfishing is only open from early November through March.

For those of you hearty souls who want to go clam digging in the chilly waters, here's the permitting information:

  • $15 resident/taxpayer
  • $50 non-resident
  • $25 weekly
  • FREE resident senior

A "resident/taxpayer" is an individual who is a legal resident or real estate taxpayer of the Town of Provincetown.

A "non-resident" is anyone who does not reside in/pay real estate taxes in the Town of Provincetown.

A "senior" is an individual who is age 65 or older.

FYI: Upon leaving the flats, all recreational shellfish harvesters must report to the Shellfish Constable who maintains a record of the town’s yearly harvest.

Harvest limit - The weekly limit for any combination of quahogs, soft-shelled clams, and oysters is either one level 10-quart pail, or a peck shellfish basket. No other containers are allowed on the tidal flats. The sea clam limit is one bushel per week.

Permits: available online at the link below

More Info: Provincetown Shellfishing


Enjoy your Cape Cod clam digging adventure!


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Related Pages:

Catching Blue Claw Crabs


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Important:
I've made a valiant effort to be sure that the information on this page is accurate. However, towns may change their shell fish license fees, regulations, harvest limits, permit purchase locations, etc., at any time, without my knowledge. Before making any plans, please be sure to confirm all information directly with the town where you plan to go clam digging!