: Jeremy Burke/ OCVA

Guided Clamming and Crabbing Adventures on the Oregon Coast

Learn how to catch and clean some of the sea’s tastiest treats with these coastal experts.
March 25, 2024

With 363 miles of stunning coastline boasting salty bays and rich tidal flats, Oregon is a great place to learn how to catch your own crabs and dig for clams, both of which make for a fine meal. Not sure how to begin? Let a guide help. These experts offer excursions to show you all the tricks of the trade, and many have opportunities from spring to fall. All you need is a license, an understanding of the rules, and a willingness to try something new.  Here are some ways to add oceanside foraging to your next Coast getaway.

View of a marina with boats and a dock visible.
Courtesy of Granite & Light/ OCVA

Book a Crabbing or Clamming Adventure on the North Coast

The North Coast teems with opportunities to find your own shellfish with Tillamook Bay, Nehalem Bay and Netarts Bay all being fantastic places to begin. At any number of local marinas, you’ll find outfitters and companies willing to rent boats and equipment. 

When she’s not farming edible seaweed at the Garibaldi marina, Alanna Kieffer of Shifting Tides loves sharing her knowledge and passion for marine life with guests who sign up for her immersive foraging workshops, which take place in the summer months. She can take you out to look for mussels, crabs and clams — even wild seaweed — all while teaching you about the ecology of Tillamook Bay. John Kallas of Wild Food Adventures in Portland also arranges educational foraging trips around Tillamook, Rockaway Beach and Hug Point, among others, including guided excursions to look for butter, steamer and gaper clams.

In Rockaway Beach, Kelly’s Brighton Marina can set you up on its dock with a baited trap, a bucket and a measuring tool you’ll need to make sure you’re keeping only legal-size crabs. The staff will instruct you how to use it all and then cook your catch. Once you know what you’re doing, you can even rent a boat that holds up to six people and head out for a couple of hours with baited traps. Nearby Jetty Fishery will also help you get set up with crabbing gear to use from its dock as well as provide clamming equipment and instruction on where to go. 

In Pacific City, dory-boat captains famously launch their flat-bottomed vessels right from the sand just as they’ve done since the early 1900s. You can be a part of that action on a guided trip with Pacific City Fishing, where Captain Mark Lytle runs fishing trips, crabbing trips and combinations of both. He’ll also clean and cook your catch.

Two men dig in the sand for clams by hand and with a clamming tool.
Courtesy of Justin Myers/ OCVA

Great Places to Crab and Clam on the Central and Southern Coasts

In Lincoln City, experts can help you get started crabbing and clamming in annual “exploriences” in Siletz Bay. Check the website for details. Newport Oregon Fishing Charters also arranges guided crabbing trips, typically combined with a fishing excursion, as does Depoe Bay’s Tradewinds Charters, where you can catch fish or even go whalewatching while you crab. Call for information about accessibility options like portside pickup and wheelchair-friendly doors and ramps.

With trips out of Newport and Waldport (as well as Seaside and Tillamook), Osprey Guide Adventures organizes full-day, boat-based crabbing trips, where owner Bill Taylor and team will provide you with everything you need except a license. With them you’ll learn the best time of day to set your trap; how to tell the difference between a Dungeness and a red crab, males and females; and how to prepare them for the table. Want to stick to shore? The guides can take you clamming for cockles, gapers, razors and more.

The vast tidal flats around Coos Bay, North Bend and Charleston make for some of the most productive clamming on the Coast, where giant gaper clams, purple varnish clams, cockles and more all thrive. Wavecrest Discoveries organizes half-day clam-digging trips, where the experts will loan you a shovel and a bucket and show you how to spot the telltale signs in the sand of a clam lurking below. Take a peek at a tide chart to find the negative tides, and then call ahead to book those popular days in advance.

A woman casts a crab net into the water off a dock.
Courtesy of Granite & Light/ OCVA

Ready to Try on Your Own?

Your guide will very likely leave you feeling prepared to try your own hand at crabbing and clamming for your next trip. Shops all along the Coast can rent you traps, sell you bait and tell you the best places to go. Many will prepare your catch for you too. 

No matter where you go, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is a great place to start learning about where and when to go crabbing and clamming. The agency also provides maps on some of the more productive places to crab and clam

Before heading out, contact the Shellfish Biotoxin Hotline to learn of any area closures related to toxins affecting shellfish populations.

About The

Tim Neville
Tim Neville is a writer based in Bend where he writes about the outdoors, travel and the business of both. His work has been included in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and Best Food Writing, and earned various awards from the Society of American Travel Writers and the Society of Professional Journalists. Tim has reported from all seven continents and spends his free time skiing, running and spending time with his family.

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