Let the clamming begin

I have my shiny new family shellfish permit and that means the clams are scared. One of these years I am going to get a single digit license, maybe camp out in a lawn chair at the Department of Natural Resources and be first in line like a teenager trying to cop some Hannah Montana tickets.

The boat is launched. The waders need patching and tomorrow on the tide I intend to go in search of some serious mercenaria mercenaria, aka the Mighty Quahog, and make me a mess of chowder.  The shellfish warden asked me, as she handed over the newly laminated license: “Where’s your favorite place to clam?”

That’s like asking me what my bank balance is.

But I told her and in return she pulled out the map and showed me some good spots where the volunteers have been broadcasting seed and and transplanting dirty clams to clean water. They were all shore spots — the kind for people who don’t have boats — and therefore the ones I tend to leave to the guys who trudge down the sand to find their bivalves. I have a boat, so I go to the places where clammers with boats can only go.

And I’m not talking about them, in fact, I am turning into one of those wiseasses who when asked at the dock, “Where did you catch that fish?” say, “In the lip.”

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Let the clamming begin”

  1. WTF is a “shellfish warden?
    Why can’t you buy your license in Cotuit?
    How come your dinghy is so white it glistens?
    Loverly pic.

    Save the mighty Quahoag!
    Long live the Geoduck and the southern Pismo!


  2. Andrew Giles Buckley – United States – Two-time Emmy nominee, Master Mariner and op-ed columnist Andrew Giles Buckley has followed the Columbia Expedition, the first American voyage 'round the world, for 18 years. He founded "Hit and Run History" in 2008 to digitally bring this story and others to a global audience. In 2010, "HRH" premiered as the first original web content and centerpiece of WGBH's History page. In 2011, he co-produced "China: Through My Eyes," an elementary education travel series for WGBH's Kids page. This 13-part series followed two American girls, ages 7 and 8, as they explore China's Pearl River Delta. Subsequently, Buckley has taken productions of "HRH" and "TME" to Cape Verde, the Falklands, Cape Horn and Chile. Awarded 13 Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants and the first-ever Social Media Outreach Grant by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Buckley has taught classes at The Learning Annex in New York, and is developing programming for live events for Hit and Run History.
    Andy Buckley says:

    A recreational clammer ready to go in March? Someone’s in the wrong field. Seriously, quahogging is very Zen. Clamming, that’s all a sprint, but scratching for little necks and cherrystones is quite therapeutic.

    In Chatham, the technical term is “Shellfish Constable.” But he and his crew are collectively referred to as “the Warden.”

    Also “the Man.” And, one or two times, “the Bronze.” But clammers (as compared to quahoggers) are innately paranoid.

    Better rough up the tender before it gets borrowed for an extended period.

  3. Dave:

    I tried to get a single digit license this year. I went about an hour before they opened and ended up being second in line. I thought “oh well, #2 is not bad.” I ended up with number 89. It turns out they save the low numbers for the shellfish volunteers.

    Jimmy Clams

  4. I forget. I bought it from Peck’s for large money about ten years ago. Astonished it hasn’t been pinched. It’s okay.. Wish I had a real cedar skiff

  5. Adventitious windfall

    Picked 3 biggies and 3 cherries with one finger on a walk in a never to be disclosed location today – LEGALLY as it’s Wednesday. Panko crumbs, fresh thyme and scallions, a hint of lemon and plenty of butter – they all wound up in stuffed three large shells for the three of us.

    Avete Quahog whose name in the ancient tongue relates to it use as wampum – a mercenary function

    Victuri te salutamus,


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