Digging for Alaskan Razor Clams
Date: June 13, 2015
Razor clam digging on the Kenai Peninsula is one of Alaska’s most popular outdoor activities. It is enjoyed by people of all ages. It is also inexpensive/ requiring only ample boots and clothing, a clam shovel or tube, bucket and a current sport fishing license for those 16 years of age or older. Over 1 million clams are dug each year from the beaches along Cook Inlet.
Razor clams are found on most sandy beaches between the Kasilof River to the north and the Anchor River on the Kenai Peninsula. This 50 mo;e stretch can be further divided into a northern beach area (Coho, Clam Gulch, Oil Pad Access) and a southern beach area comprised of the beaches around Ninilchik, Deep Creek, Happy Valley and Whiskey Gulch. The most popular area on the northern beaches is Clam Gulch, located 22 miles south of Soldotna at Mile Post 117.5 of the Sterling Highway.
Razor clams are found by the imprint left on the sand surface as the clam’s neck is withdrawn. When a “dimple” is found, insert shovel 3 to 6 inches away. Then remove sand with a lifting motion and once the clam is exposed, reach down and remove it by grasping the neck or shell.
Cleaning & Cooking
Once you have reached your limit, soaking them in a bucket of clean sea water and cornmeal for a few hours will allow the clams to clean out some of the sand themselves. When you are up to the task of cleaning the clams, drop them into a pot of boiling water, just until they open, and then immediately put them into a cold water sink. The clam body may be removed from the shell by running a knife blade along the inner shell surface and cutting the muscle connecting body to the shell. Additional cleaning is done to remove the gills and digestive tract, which are the dark parts of the clam. The tip of the neck should also be removed and both canals of the neck should be opened to facilitate the removal of sand. Scissors with pointed blades work well in cleaning razor clams. They are now ready to cook up or place in the freezer for later.
Razor clams may be harvested throughout the entire year, but the “table quality” is generally best during the early summer, just prior to the spawning season. Consult a local tide book for low tide information; the best digging is generally an hour before to two hours after low tide.
Generously contributed with permission by
The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center:
44790 Sterling Hwy Soldotna, AK 99669