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Jul 20, 2014 04:06 PM

Digging for geoducks as an out-of-towner

Hi there, we're flying in from San Francisco, so we won't be able to bring our own supplies and need some advice on logistics.

Is there a beach that has a fishing shop that we can buy the fishing licenses, buckets, and shovel? Or do we get it in advance from a hardware store?

We'll be in a hotel without a kitchenette. Is it hard to clean without a proper sink? Is it unrealistic to think we can buy a cheap knife and serve ourselves fresh mirugai right after digging?

Alternatively, are there tours that local fishermen or enthusiasts help you dig for geoduck and let you borrow their supplies? I tried searching but came up empty. Thanks in advance!

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  1. You probably already found this info, but it may be worth repeating:

    Guidelines to follow when pursuing geoducks:

    • Before going to a beach, check the marine-toxin hotline at 800-562-5632 or for information on red tides and beach closures.

    • For beach locations and emergency closures, go to state Fish and Wildlife's Web site at The regulation pamphlet also lists public beaches that are open for shellfishing.

    • The daily limit is three geoducks per person with no minimum size.

    • Another technique for those who don't have a metal or plastic cylinder is to dig a trench about 2 feet deep, leaving a column of sand to support the siphon. Then expose the siphon by knocking away the sand and continue to dig until you reach the shell.

    • Avoid grabbing a geoduck by the neck or siphon. If you inadvertently break off the neck, be sure to take the siphon and the body in the shell. State Fish and Wildlife imposes a penalty for discarding dismembered clams.

    • Rinse clams well with seawater, then keep them moist by putting them in a wet gunny sack or covering them with a wet cloth.

    • Before leaving the beach, refill the holes you've dug.

    • Be sure to have a valid state Fish and Wildlife shellfish license, which must be worn visibly when digging.

    • Minus low tides are usually the only time you'll find geoducks.

    • According to state Fish and Wildlife natural beds of geoducks exist on many public beaches in Washington, although are rarely encountered on Pacific coast beaches and west of Clallam Bay in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

    The most popular geoduck beaches are: South Indian Island County Park; Oak Bay County Park; Fort Flagler State Park; Harstene Island; Shine Tidelands State Park; Dosewallips State Park; Duckabush; Penrose Point State Park; Eagle Creek; Frye Cove County Park; North Bay; and Faye Bainbridge State Park.

    Boat access only areas include: Dabob Broad Spit; East Dabob; Toandos Peninsula State Park; Hope Island State Park; Seabold Beach; and Blake Island State Park.

    3 Replies
    1. re: firecracker

      Last weekend with a full moon was a good minus-low tide. So next low-lows are in 3 weeks. During the summer those low tides occur around midday.

      In any case, do familiarize yourself with the tide tables

      This is the tide I source I use:
      For 8/10

      1. re: firecracker

        Thanks for this nice summary and all the quick replies!

        The tide source was really helpful. I did not realize negative low tides are not always available and read that geoducks appear in -2 feet or below. We'll be there Aug 20- Aug 26, and the low tides don't dip below 0 on any of those days. Has anyone had success finding geoducks in low tide that was not negative?

        If we were to do this, we would switch to a suites-type hotel with a kitchenette since boiling on the beach may be difficult.

        Sad, we were looking for "calorie-burning" activities to offset our eating excursions while on vacation and thought digging would be a unique experience.

        Sounds like we'll have to save this for the next visit then and consult the tides chart first before booking tickets. It does seem like too much trouble if we can experience butchering fresh geoduck in the comforts of our home like c oliver suggested. Good to know backup options!

        1. re: tofuflower

          Seattle and surroundings have a number of walking opportunities. Most of the larger parks overlook the Sound, and have climbs down to the water's edge. These include city, county and state parks. And further away there are National Forests and National Parks.

      2. I've never butchered a geoduck myself, but isn't blanching and skinning usually the first step? You could probably rent a camp stove at REI.

        Here is some good information:

        1. I know this isn't what you're asking but I saw this and thought I'd mention this. Live geoducks are available in SF at New May Wah market on Clement at about 8th. Just in case :)

          3 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            In this vein, the EASIEST geoduck hunting in Seattle is at Uwajimaya. They usually have excellent live geoduck in their seafood section.

            1. re: Booklegger451

              We NEVER visit Seattle without a stop there! With all the bounty that is there, I guess I missed the geoduck. Next time. Thanks.

              1. re: c oliver

                Look under the giant tank full of crabs, along with the oysters and mussels.