Craving clam chowder? Can’t stop thinking about a mouthwatering bucket of steamers? Any good salt knows that there's no better way to dine on Cape Cod than by digging into the freshest clams, quahogs and scallops caught with your own two hands! Plus it can be fun for the whole family. But before you don your waders and pick up your bucket and rake, there are several things you should know.

Both towns on Bass River have rules and regulations when it comes to shellfishing. Check out the do’s and don’ts, how to apply for a permit and any closures for Yarmouth Shellfishing or Dennis Shellfishing before heading out.

Once you haul in your catch, be sure to consult Measuring Your Catch to make sure you are taking only what is permitted.

Now that you have the right supplies, your permit and you know all the rules, let’s give you some basics:

  • The best time to go clamming is about an hour before low tide (check the Bass River tide chart).
  • Clams can be found in places where a small spout of water shoots up or where there is a small mound of sand with a hole in the top. You may have to dig a foot or more to find the clams. Often if you find one clam there will be many more nearby. It takes about 30 clams or roughly two hours of digging to make a pot of clam chowder. 
  • Quahogs are the larger, hard-shelled clams that are used to make chowder, stuffies, and clam cakes.
  • Cherrystones, which are smaller, hard-shelled clams, are less chewy and are commonly used in pasta dishes.
  • Soft-shelled clams, known as steamers, are often chopped and fried or steamed and served with fresh bread.
  • Oysters are commonly eaten raw and for this reason it is especially important to know the water quality where they are harvested.
  •  Clams are measured in groups called bushels and pecks. Four pecks equal a bushel, and one peck is about 9 liters.