Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Raking for clams is a time-honored tradition on Ocracoke. Whether you take your boat out to Hog Shoal, or just wade along the sound shore, clamming is an activity that can feed both your stomach and your soul. Out in the water, under blue skies, with pelicans and gulls overhead, you walk along slowly, pushing your rake. When you hear that distinctive "clink" you dig your rake deeper, then pull back and up. You toss the clam into your basket.

Between clams you think and reflect. It is a good time to put life in perspective. Maybe you share a thought with your companions...maybe you keep it to yourself. Sometimes you stop simply to watch the ferry coming down the channel, or to follow a fishing boat motoring back to port with today's catch. That is enough.

When you have your legal limit you reluctantly head back home to open and cook your catch. More than likely your fellow clammers and their families join you that evening for steamed clams, clams casino, or deviled clams. However you fix them they will be delicious.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of slavery on Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous9:00 AM

    Philip, I've seen folks raking for clams when I've visited Ocracoke and I've been fascinated with the whole process.

    Please share what is considered to be the "legal limit" so this Person county, NC mainlander will know!


  2. Anonymous9:32 AM

    where is the favorite place for the locals to clam rake? if you don't want to tell me the favorite then where are some of the best places so we don't scrape up the whole island when we visit there.

  3. The legal recreational limit is 100 clams per person or 200 clams per boat. Clams must be at least one inch thick (tines on clam rakes are spaced to release the smaller clams).

    I would probably get shot if I told where clams are thick right now. Frankly, prime clamming areas will change over time. On my most recent excursion I tried a new place. There were virtually no clams there. I moved to a different location and found a mess. It was trial and error.

    Just be sure not to rake clams in a local's commercial clam beds (they will be staked out and well marked)!

  4. Anonymous10:17 AM

    Hardly a day goes by without learning something new from the blog. Makes me "happy as a clam" high tide.

  5. Ron Kostar1:20 PM

    I love clamming, Phillip, always have, and I love your second paragraph. It's wonderful being out there surrounded by water doing an activity that is deliberate and reflective and slow. It's just as wonderful jumping back over the side of your skiff and opening some clams and eating them with hot sauce and saltines.

    Are the Watermen out there pound-netting flounder? Do they have a market?

  6. I talked with Patty at the fish house -- fishing is real good right now...but no shrimp or crabs since the storm.

  7. Anonymous4:37 AM

    Philip, appreciate your answer to my question regarding "legal limits". As usual, I am enlightened with your insightfulness!

    Guess knowing where to find a "mess of clams" and not telling is something akin to keeping a secret about the "best fishing hole", right?


  8. My first attempt at clamming Probably 1981 or so; was near hog shoal I believe; just south of Springers Point.. Didn't boat to my spot but instead drove down So. point (72) rd and took a right to the sound. (mostly off limits these days) Anyways, I thought I did fairly well for a "dingbatter" . That is until I told a local friend that I got 17.He said "dozen, that's pretty good" No. I replied, 17...He just laughed and laughed

  9. We are coming down in June. Is there a certain time of year that is better for clamming? My kids would love it. Also is the crabbing good?

  10. We are coming down in June. Is there a certain time of year that is better for clamming? My kids would love it. Also is the crabbing good?

    1. Clams are closer to the surface in warmer weather. June is a great time to rake for clams. You should be able to get crabs then, too.

  11. Anonymous5:32 PM

    THAT SOUNDS AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!