Fishing for Live Clams on Los Angeles Beaches

by Si Kingston

The Pacific littleneck clam is the most common clam found on California cost. This clam is most often found in sandy mud in the bay, in estuaries, on reefs or near large rocks. Pacific littleneck clams are about 3 inches wide. Those found in the bay or in sloughs are gray, or yellow-gray in color, while those discovered on the open coast have a tendency to be white and have wavy-brown lines on the shell. In Los Angeles, there are only a few beaches that provide the type of environment in which these clams thrive.

Items you will need

  • Bucket
  • Scratch rake
  • Shinicock rake
Step 1

Go to Malibu Point or Leo Carrillo State Park during daylight hours or during times of low tide, which usually begins after 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Malibu Point and Leo Carrillo are located along the Pacific Coast Highway and have extensive rocks dotting the coastline where clams thrive.

Step 2

Search the rock surfaces and tide pools that have formed in between the rocks for clams within 6 inches of the surface of the water.

Step 3

Walk out into the beach water, no deeper than waist high, and scratch the sand with a scratch rake to dig for clams. You can also search for clams in waist-high water with your feet. Feel at the bottom of the ocean for clams with your toes, then bend down and pick them up.

Step 4

Walk along the coast during low tide and scratch the wet sand with a scratch rake for clams.

Step 5

Get into a boat and dig with a shinicock rake. Dig up the ocean floor with the end of the rake. Pull the rake up and look for clams within the sand. Pour the sand, and other captured sea life accidentally picked up, back into the ocean.

Step 6

Return any harvested clams with broken shells or shells that will not close when tapped to the water. If you discover clams with broken shells when you get them home, discard them.

Step 7

Store the harvested clams out of water, in a refrigerator or freezer. The clams should be kept in temperatures between 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the fridge. If frozen, the clams will keep for about six months.