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Big Cliff

Myrtle Beach Feb.10, 2020

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Well it turns out there is a lot more to clam digging than just going out and digging! My first attempts yielded some pretty decent harvests but I really had to work at it. Not knowing much I had been told I needed a "clam rake", a non resident salt water fishing license, a bucket or basket to put the clams in, and rubber boots. Well I had brought boots with me and I had a five gallon pail so off I went to Walmart. No problem getting the fishing license, $35.00 for a year, the clam rake was something I hadn't seen before, sort of looks like a lawn rake with a basket attached.

That clam rake works but boy did it get heavy fast and I found it hard to use. I noticed other people were using a garden cultivator style rake, it was a lot lighter, didn't have the basket attached and the tines were longer which allowed you to dig deeper with much less effort. I took the clam rake back and bought the cultivator and my harvest went up quite a bit with a lot less effort but I was doing a lot of digging still. That's what most of the other people seemed to be using so I carried on.

My last trip out I noticed a man walking along, he'd stop and within a few seconds he'd have a clam. This went on for quite a few minutes so I walked over, explained that this was quite new to me and while I was getting some clams it looked like I was having to work much harder than he was. He laughed, told me he was form West Virginia and if there was an easy way to get free food he probably knew it. It was one of those immediate friendships, we just hit it off. Anyway Jim showed me what to look for in the mud, a little breathing hole that looks like one of those old style key holes (there's lots of different holes in the mud but this one is very distinctive) and it is only made by the little neck clams. My success went up immediately and the effort went down to almost nothing.

I also got to meet one of the local COs, Chuck Beacham, a really nice guy, very friendly, very helpful, they were checking licenses, catch limits and sizes. Clams have to be a minimum of 1" thick through the hinge to be legal and the fines start at $165.00 and can go up to $1000.00/ clam so you want to make sure you don't have any undersized. Anyway, Chuck showed me how to make a simple little gauge by cutting a slot in my pail, he also suggested making the slot 1 1/8 inches just so there was a bit of a buffer and I could be sure I would never have a problem, If the clam goes through the slot it goes back in the water!

Other things I've learned: The smaller clams are considered "steamer clams", the larger ones are called "chowder clams" the names are pretty well self explanatory. Clams unlike mussels will only open up once they are completely cooked and you want to get them out of the steamer as soon as they have opened or they can get tough so it's better to do them in smaller quantities. Anyway that's clam digging 101 LOL.

Anyway I promised pictures of these shrimp so: I've got a fairly big hand!Shrimp.JPG.ed724ea2ec115abbe39a5e52ec94a28b.JPG

A bowl of them

 

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And last, some of the newest batch of clams:

131357953_afewclams.JPG.7f9b549770e4b90621366c78e9e45bed.JPG

 

Anyway, tight lines and stay safe.

Edited by Big Cliff
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The best ice fishing has always been inside a Rum&Coke glass.....

Those clams are all the same species, but are called differently according to their size when you harvest them. However, there are also Mahogany Clams that are a deep water clam off the coast of Maine. And I'm sure many others like the Soft Shell Steamers that the NE coast is know for.

Cliff, those are BEAUTIFUL looking shrimp.......I  would BBQ those baby's in the OVEN. . . :)

Edited by Walltrout

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1 hour ago, Walltrout said:

The best ice fishing has always been inside a Rum&Coke glass.....

Those clams are all the same species, but are called differently according to their size when you harvest them. However, there are also Mahogany Clams that are a deep water clam off the coast of Maine. And I'm sure many others like the Soft Shell Steamers that the NE coast is know for.

Cliff, those are BEAUTIFUL looking shrimp.......I  would BBQ those baby's in the OVEN. . . :)

I believe these are called little neck clams and they seem to be the only variety harvested around these parts, they sure are good eating! The shrimp, well we have had them bbq, steamed, sauteed in butter and garlic....... no matter how you cook this fresh seafood it's all good 😊

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All that looks delicious and the ability to go out and get it for yourself is making me jealous!  Unbelievable shrimp!  Keep at it and take lots of pics!

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Sure sounds like you are having a great trip my friend....Good on you Cliff !

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Hey there Cliff! 
Sounds like you’re “Diggin’” Myrtle Beach! sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. Have a great time.

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Many years ago my wife and I used to get clams along the southwest coast of Florida as we made our way down to the keys.  They were piss clams and easy to find as you just walk along until one shoots up a squirt of water, then dig with a little plastic spoon.  Easy and great eating.  That was many years ago so I don’t know if it is still done quite so easily and wherever you stop.  
last year for the first time we went scalloping in Homasassa.  That was a blast.  One day scalloping and one day fishing for Redfish.  Local restaurants will cook up your catch for basically nothing.  Just buy your sides and drinks and you’re good to go.

Enjoy your “claming”.  It’s always fun to try different things.

Edited by Slingfisher

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I was introduced to clam digging this summer in Miramichi Bay, and it was the high point of my summer vacation.  We looked for the holes in the sand, then dug with our hands.  It was hard on the hands, for sure, lots of gravel in with the sand.......

Cliff, are you catching those prawns/shrimp, or buying them?
 

Doug

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48 minutes ago, akaShag said:

I was introduced to clam digging this summer in Miramichi Bay, and it was the high point of my summer vacation.  We looked for the holes in the sand, then dug with our hands.  It was hard on the hands, for sure, lots of gravel in with the sand.......

Cliff, are you catching those prawns/shrimp, or buying them?
 

Doug

We are buying them, $6.00 A pound right off the boat. I would love to be able to catch them but I  think I would need a boat for starters. We often see the shrimp trawlers within about a mile or so off the pier so they are in the area.

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3 minutes ago, Big Cliff said:

We are buying them, $6.00 A pound right off the boat. I would love to be able to catch them but I  think I would need a boat for starters. We often see the shrimp trawlers within about a mile or so off the pier so they are in the area.

Yes, a boat for sure.  I have set prawn traps for spot-tail prawns in a bunch of places off the coast of Vancouver Island.  SIX BUCKS A POUND, you are making out like a bandit!!!!!

Doug

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Our first time scalloping this year and it was great although apparently not a great year for scallops.  Red tide late last year is what some thought, but snorkelling around in 90 or 95 degree water is hard to beat.  I remember the first scallop I saw.  It was a eureka moment!  Speaking of shrimp (someone was) we used to catch them off the bridges in the keys at night.  Just tie a net to the bridge as the tide was going out late at night and wait.  Shine your flashlight out to see if there were lots of little reflective eyes in the net.  If there were we would haul it up.  The outgoing tide held the nets up in the current so they wouldn’t sink.  There were times many years ago we could fill styrofoam coolers with fresh shrimp.  I remember a couple being out on a bridge one time with a net, a Coleman stove and a bottle of wine.  Great way to spend an evening.  Of course that was back in the old days with the old original bridges.  Not allowed todo that anymore.  

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You can get a recreational shrimping added to your saltwater license for $16 annually.  One benefit from getting old is that in Alabama once you turn 65 you no longer pay for any sportsman licensees.

 

Not me, but this is how we do it.  I do it mainly for bait.

 

 

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Livin' the dream my friend. If anyone deserves it that would be you. Now I'm confused. I have to go back about 55 years ago. Every year the Family reunion on Mom's side was in Western NY just across the border from Niagara Falls. When they were affordable the organizers would buy huge burlap bags of clams. I remember us older kids, about 10 yrs old, would open clams for the adults for a nickel a dozen. They ate them raw with a dash of hot sauce and a squeeze of lemon. How could we open fresh clams when they have to be steamed 1st? I remember clams not oysters. I remember them being cold and slimy. I remember bags of ice. I dunno. I'll have to ask one of my Aunts or Uncles that are still with us they are all in their 80's now.  Of course when I was old enough to develop a taste for clams they stopped buying them. When we were old enough to run a reunion I asked a cousin to check the prices. Wow we would have to charge everyone a hundred bucks a person to buy 50 pound bags of clams and that was 40 years ago. Maybe we got them off the huge charcoal BBQ's as soon as they opened and we separated the clam from the shell then put them on ice. It was almost 60 years ago for gosh sakes. 

I was in the Asian fish market in Hamilton yesterday. Little neck clams were so expensive I passed. I bet you have 50 bucks of clams on that table. Those shrimp look like 15-20's maybe less. 6 bucks might get you a small hand full, maybe. The 15-20's I bought for New Years Eve were over 2 bucks each, frozen even, if I can remember last month! 

I am so happy you are having a great time on The Grand Strand. I've never had a bad time there. I remember a place downtown that served crab legs, that was all they had on the menu. All you could eat, they asked Big Kevin who was a lineman  in the CFL not to come back, he wasn't in game shape then and tipped the scales, if he could find a scale at a slaughter house, at close to 500 lbs.  Done any Calabash Cliff? 

Edited by Old Ironmaker

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14 hours ago, akaShag said:

Yes, a boat for sure.  I have set prawn traps for spot-tail prawns in a bunch of places off the coast of Vancouver Island.  SIX BUCKS A POUND, you are making out like a bandit!!!!!

Doug

If you buy 10 lbs it drops to $5.00 😊

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6 hours ago, Old Ironmaker said:

Livin' the dream my friend. If anyone deserves it that would be you. Now I'm confused. I have to go back about 55 years ago. Every year the Family reunion on Mom's side was in Western NY just across the border from Niagara Falls. When they were affordable the organizers would buy huge burlap bags of clams. I remember us older kids, about 10 yrs old, would open clams for the adults for a nickel a dozen. They ate them raw with a dash of hot sauce and a squeeze of lemon. How could we open fresh clams when they have to be steamed 1st? I remember clams not oysters. I remember them being cold and slimy. I remember bags of ice. I dunno. I'll have to ask one of my Aunts or Uncles that are still with us they are all in their 80's now.  Of course when I was old enough to develop a taste for clams they stopped buying them. When we were old enough to run a reunion I asked a cousin to check the prices. Wow we would have to charge everyone a hundred bucks a person to buy 50 pound bags of clams and that was 40 years ago. Maybe we got them off the huge charcoal BBQ's as soon as they opened and we separated the clam from the shell then put them on ice. It was almost 60 years ago for gosh sakes. 

I was in the Asian fish market in Hamilton yesterday. Little neck clams were so expensive I passed. I bet you have 50 bucks of clams on that table. Those shrimp look like 15-20's maybe less. 6 bucks might get you a small hand full, maybe. The 15-20's I bought for New Years Eve were over 2 bucks each, frozen even, if I can remember last month! 

I am so happy you are having a great time on The Grand Strand. I've never had a bad time there. I remember a place downtown that served crab legs, that was all they had on the menu. All you could eat, they asked Big Kevin who was a lineman  in the CFL not to come back, he wasn't in game shape then and tipped the scales, if he could find a scale at a slaughter house, at close to 500 lbs.  Done any Calabash Cliff? 

Thanks my friend, I am loving it down here, the high today is supposed to be 23, the record high set back in 1949 was only 23 so we might even break that. We seem to get a few cool days then it bounces back up again but so far no snow LOL. Even though the temperatures tend to be up in the teens most days it can still feel cool if the wind is off the water, the ocean temp is only 53 F as of yesterday.

The clams don't HAVE to be steamed first, lots of people do eat them raw, I just find it very hard to pry them open, my hands just aren't as strong as they were once upon a time.😉 I did read that putting them in the freezer for a bit first makes them easier to shuck but I haven't tried that yet, soon though! Perhaps being on ice made them easier for you kids to shuck them.

 We are really enjoying the steamed ones anyway, a bit of butter, a little garlic, 1/4 cup of white wine..... served over a bed of fresh pasta with crusty bread..... are you drooling yet 😋. Oh, and the clam juice you end up with,  OMG I am going to try to find some Mason jars down here and can some of it to bring home, it will make a beautiful base for chowders and such.

They do sell them in the local grocery store and fish markets, typically about $5.00 to $8.00 a dozen, I didn't count those but I am guessing I had about 4 dozen. You are limited to 1/2 a bushel twice a week, I haven't come close to that yet but I do expect next trip out I shouldn't have any problem.  

I've measured the ID of my pail and carefully marked the pail so I won't exceed the limit (and yes I calculated it based on a US 1/2 bushel 😉) This old man isn't taking any chances!

You are just about right on the money, the last 2 lbs of shrimp we bought we had 26 shrimp so about 13/lb average, I won't even buy the frozen ones at home ever again, they are not even close in flavour.

Anyway, the rain has stopped and the wind is dropping, time to get dressed and head out fishing.

Tight lines and stay safe

 

 

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I  missed th boat!.

Fool me sending the wife out west to visit relatives while I stayed home with the dogs.  Should have had her stay home while I came down to visit you Cliff.

 

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31 minutes ago, bigugli said:

I  missed th boat!.

Fool me sending the wife out west to visit relatives while I stayed home with the dogs.  Should have had her stay home while I came down to visit you Cliff.

 

That would have been wonderful, perhaps we can plan on doing it next year, we'd have one heck of a good time😊

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I just read an article about white sharks congregating at Myrtle Beach now.

 

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So it appears I don't have full blown Oldtimers disease. Thanks for clearing the clam thing up Big Cliff. You are getting abnormally warm weather down there for this time of year. For years we drove down with a few foursomes for Golf in mid April. I've seen a dusting of snow on Halloween. Yes there were warm days but more brisk days than Florida warm. You are going to start thinking in Fahrenheit again not Celsius. 

Beware Cliff Canadian Customs will not let you cross into Canada with any seafood, fish, meat, veggies or fruit cooked, cured, smoked, canned or raw. I've seen grown men cry when they realize they have to leave their catches or groceries behind. There was some leeway just a few years ago but there seems to be zero tolerance these days. Same goes for going into the USA. I cross the border about every 3 weeks or more. 

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