Monday, June 24, 2013
Dining Al Fresco—From the Bay to Your Bucket
“Look for the show,” he tells us. The show is the oval hole left in the sand by clams at low tide. In the case of the Gaper, it is nearly two inches in diameter. Though smaller clams are found closer to the surface, the Gaper requires a serious hole—two feet deep in some cases. “Grab a small child by the feet,” says our grinning guide, “and hold him over the hole to dig the last couple of inches by hand.”
In a net bag, Clameron displays the smaller hardshell clams he dug that morning. Butter clams, cockles, and littlenecks are also found in Alsea Bay. Someone asks where to dig. Turning toward the Alsea Bay Bridge, Clameron points to the Y-shaped cement supports, telling us that it is the largest Y-leg bridge in the country. In the arch between the third and fourth Y, he says, you’ll be able to dig your limit in about twenty minutes. (The limit is 20 clams per person per day, of which only 12 may be the big gapers or geoducks. See sidebar for daily limits for all shellfish.)
Another option is the “crabhawk,” which you hang from the end of a fishing pole. When the crab crawls onto the screen to get the bait, there is a tug, your signal to reel in the trap, which automatically closes as soon as you start pulling it in. (Designed by Steven DeMars—visit www.crabhawk.com for more information.)
Oregon State Sport Fishing Regulations allow you to keep only male crabs—the females are laden with millions of eggs and harvesting them will jeopardize production of future crabs. Cameron demonstrates how to sex a crab: the female’s abdomen is wide, the male’s is narrow. If you need help, check it out in the pamphlet Crabbing in Oregon.
Crabs must be at least 5 ¾ inches measured in a straight line across the back immediately in front of the little bumps on the side of the crab. All females and undersized crabs must be returned to the water carefully and immediately.