Question: Do you know of any experienced shellfishermen (or women) who do "classes" on clamming? We'll be in Dennis for a week this summer and would love to go out with a guide.
Dee's Reply: Hi Tara -
Hmmmmmm. That's a good question. We have lots of excellent charter fishing guides, kayaking guides, and land tour guides here on the Cape - but no clamming guides that I've ever heard of.
I know a number of professional shellfishermen, and I think it's safe to say that they all guard "their" clamming grounds like a highly prized gem. Of course they would, since it's their livelihood.
The good news is, clamming is really easy to do on your own. All you need is a clam rake, a bucket, a clam gauge, and a shellfishing permit from the town where you plan to dig your clams. A tide chart is helpful, too, since you'll want to dig at low tide. (Click here for printable tide charts.)
It's important to remember that you can't just go clamming anywhere, any time you'd like. In each town, there are a limited number of spots where public shellfishing is allowed, and digging is only allowed on certain days of the week. When you go to the town offices to get your permit, they'll let you know where and when it's okay to dig for clams.
When you get to the shellfishing area, you won't be alone. I can pretty much guarantee that!
In my experience, the folks you'll meet at the clam flats are generally a very friendly bunch. I'm sure someone will be happy to show you how to dig and how to measure your clams. (Taking undersized clams is a major "no-no"!!)
If you've had a look at my Clam Digging page, you've likely noticed that permit costs vary considerably from town to town.
Since you'll be in Dennis, where shellfish permits for non-residents are a little pricey, you might want to consider heading over to Harwich or Brewster for your clam digging adventure. It's not far to drive, and worth it for the savings involved, IMHO.
I hope this info helps. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!
P.S. If anybody out there knows of a shellfishing charter guide on Cape Cod, please let us know! Just click on the link below to post a comment ...
*Update: The Town of Barnstable's Natural Resources Department normally offers a few "Learn to Shellfish Classes" each summer. Check the department's webpage for details.