A Winter Treat: Clamming in Provincetown
Shellfish beds are traditionally open from early November through March each year, and shellfishing is only permitted during that period. Each year the specific beds are identified and the season declared open by the Board of Selectmen, which generally occurs at a Selectmen’s meeting in October with an opening date to occur sometime in the first week of November.
A public notice is placed in the local newspaper and on the town website. Shellfish permits typically are available in mid-October in preparation of the new shellfish season.
- Residents & non-resident property owners: $15
- Non-residents: $50
- Residents and taxpayers 65 and older – free!
- Weekly: $25
The following areas are designated for recreational shellfishing on a conditional basis. Please refer to the town website for the opening and closing dates of each area:
- Hatches Harbor
- West End
- East End
- East of breakwater
- West of breakwater
How to Go Clamming
You’ll want to purchase a steel peck or just a bucket, a clam rake, gloves and clam gauge. You can do this locally to make sure you’re getting the proper equipment for your needs and your digging location. You’ll need waders or galoshes/rubber boots, and be sure the bundle up; the water is cold in winter! Be sure to bundle up before going out. Download a low-tide app. There’s one for the iPhone called Tides Near Me. You want to go out at low tide.
- Get into the water between knee-deep and waist-deep. Leave your wallet, electronics and any valuables in the car or at home. Bring your peck, rake, gauge and gloves with you.
- Start digging. There are two approaches: either kneel down to dig with your hands (wear gloves), or use a clam rake.
- Note the difference between a rock and a clam. After some digging around and playing, you’ll be able to easily distinguish a clam shell from a rock. If you dig with your hands, the moment your finger touches a clam shell you’ll be able to distinguish it. Likewise, with a rake, you’ll feel the difference in when the clam rake makes contact with a clam versus a rock.
- Put the clams in the peck. Your floating peck should be bobbing around you, just add your clams to your collection as you go along. You’ll also want to make sure the clams you have are large enough to harvest. If they are too small, they will fall right through the clam gauge you have. In those cases, toss them back!
- Clam storage: You’ll want to refrigerate your clams within 30-45 minutes of taking them from the water. You can use a zip-lock gallon sized container and immediately throw them in the fridge. DO NOT close the zip lock OR add fresh water to your clams. Clams will last 2-3 days in a refrigerated setting, but it’s best to eat that day or the next.
There’s more where that came from! Ptownie has insider tips for all of your Provincetown adventures. Check out our 2020 Guide to Indoor Activities in Provincetown, MA!