Horsenecks, Quahogs and Steamers

April 21, 2011 (Updated April 3, 2017)

You’ll really dig this adventure! Oregon’s springtime super low tides are the best because that’s a time when the dinner table is set.

Mitch Vance, Shellfish Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said that any of the really good low tides during daylight hours provide ample opportunities to harvest Oregon’s varied bay clam species.

April, May and June each provide many super low minus tides that occur early in the morning. This is the favored time for digging bay clams with names like horsenecks, quahogs, steamers and cockles.

Jeff Folkema, a local guide and the owner of Garibaldi Marina, showed off a half dozen of the prized horseneck clams that he harvested from the bay. He said they are called “gaper” clams because of the “gape” in the shell where the neck pokes through.

Clam diggers 14 years and older are required to purchase an Oregon Shellfish License. Each person who is harvesting clams must have their own container – a bucket or a clam net on their belt – even a plastic bread bag will do – because you cannot lump other people’s clams into your container – you’ll get a ticket for that.

Keep your eyes open for ODFW placard that show pictures of the different clams species along with the harvest limits and other regulations.

There is a delicious reward for the clam digger’s efforts – bay clams can be delicious according to local resident Don Best who showed off his limit of quahog clams.

One of his all time favorite recipes is an old-fashioned clam fritter.

Don Best’s Clam Frittter Recipe
Makes 15 to 18 fritters


  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup unsifted flour and a half cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups chopped clams
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. In deep fat fryer or large heavy skillet, heat oil to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In medium mixing bowl, beat egg, milk, 1/4 cup reserved clam liquid and 1 tablespoon oil.
  4. Stir in dry ingredients and clams. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot oil.
  5. Fry until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
  6. Refrigerate leftovers.

More information:

Oregon Shellfish Regulations

More Information on Digging for Bay Clams

More Oregon Seafood Recipes

About The

Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.