View Full Version : Anyone familiar with clamming at Lawson's Landing?

04-05-2007, 08:50 AM
This year I'm gonna try clamming at Lawson's Landing, just to try something I've never done before. *I'm wondering if anyone is familiar with that activity and can share some general tips since I think I have all equipments needed and might not be using the commercial service providers.

The following is a map I pull from a clamming service operation at Lawson's landing:

I'm wondering:

1) Where exactly are the clam beds?
2) I understand the beds must be reached by boat; is it possible to beach launch an aluminum boat that can be carried by 2 people?
3) How long is the water crossing? *Can that be done with seakayaks?
4) Do I need to pay a fee to anyone or eport to anyone, before or after?

Thanks a lot.

04-05-2007, 10:26 AM
First off, I have NEVER & will NEVER go claming in the mud, but have seen it done so maybe I can help.

Looking at your map the beds are lower right side of the photo.
You can beach launch small or bigger boat. They have a tractor for boats on trailers. I don't know if they charge you to use their launch.
I don't see why you can't seakayak over to the beds. It doesn't seem that far.


Like I said I have NEVER done it but there's my $.02. Good luck

04-05-2007, 10:35 AM
Can you elaborate on why it's not good to dig in mud?? From the photo I saw it seems like dark color sand over there instead of mud, and a lot of people go clamming there... Is it dirty? Smelly? Contaminated?

04-05-2007, 11:42 AM
Yes it is dirty & smelly. You have got to like, no LOVE, clams A LOT because it seems like a lot of work. I been going down there for a few years now. When I first started going there I too thought it look like fun so I started digging by the sea wall for small clams. I only got a few but I was filthy when I was done. When I said I have NEVER, I meant out on the beds.

Just alittle background on me: I HATE SAND!!!! So take it for what it's worth, $.02. I know there are always people out there so someone must think it is fun.


04-05-2007, 01:14 PM
My family had one of the permanent trailers down there for about 30 years. *Clamming used to be awsome out there but they were overharvested. *The Lawsons ran a huge barge to the beds every minus tide making access too easy for people. *You would see huge families out there getting limits for everyone, kids included. *The clam beds were all but dead. *Hopefully they have made a comeback. *Good luck, let us know how you do. *

04-05-2007, 02:41 PM
well if lawsons is slow, is there any other good spots you can recomend near the bay area? I too have been wanting to go clamming but know little about it

04-05-2007, 02:53 PM
I went clamming there right after they stopped the barge runs. *You will need a clam PVC tube rubber boots and the bottom part of rain gear can come in handy. *When I first went there it was easy to get your limit and the clams were big. *I went back a few years later I and only got 2 or 3 and they were quite small. *I did see other people with bigger clams. *Itís is fun to go out and play in the mud if you donít mind getting dirty. *

04-05-2007, 02:56 PM
I have doen alot of clamming at lawsons.fun stuff!!!!I use a 2' pvc pipe about 3 feet long and post hole diggers.Lawsons calender shows the days good for clamming, its the minus tide days.Prepare to get dirty and wet.Here is how I do it.Low tide launch boat at the dock, go to seal island.There will be seals on the island but as the tide goes out the island will get pretty big.just stay like 100 yards or so from the seals.Its a ticket if you screw with them.Walk around looking for holes in the sand about the size of a quater.Stomp on the ground, if water shoots out you have a clam,I usually stick a beer bottle upside down in the hole but I guess you could use wood dowels, except you dont get to drink the wood dowels.I usualy mark about 10 clams,which is one persons limit, even though there is usually 4 or 5 of us you dont need a ton of clams.Now after marking my 10 clams I am prety hammered so I really dont know how we get them but somehow when I come to we are deep frying them.LOL JK... After I have all my holes marked I put my pvc pipe over the clam hole and rock it down into the sand, when it gets to hard to push down I get the post hole diggers and dig some of the sand out.Once the pvc is all the way down (3') I lay on my side and stick my arm down until I get my hand under the clam.DO NOT try to pull it out by the neck, it will break and that counts as a clam, you have to get your hand underneath it and pull the whole thing out.Thats pretty much it.

I have gone after the clam dipper quit running and there was still families taking TONS of clams.It would be 3-4 adults and like 7 kids,at 10 clams per person they would have shopping carts on the island and would be filling them up.Pretty sad.I havnt clammed in a few years so I dont know how good it is, but when I was going it was easy to find 50+clams in about 30 minutes.It would keep the kids busy stomping on the ground and watching the water spit up.Hope this helps.

04-05-2007, 03:07 PM
The clamming beds on the inshore side are still a bit thin, but the clamming on seal island is still very good. You have to go at a very low - or minus tide. Usually around Memorial day is real good. A - .05 tide or more is best. You can pay to camp and carry your boat down no problem. They may or may not want to charge you a $10 self launching fee. I'm not sure if they do as long as you do it by hand, probably not. You can call and ask. 707-878-2443. Just launch your boat from the beach by the boathouse and cruise down to the island. You will see other boats out there. When it is a negative tide the island is much, much bigger. The crossing will take you no more than 5 minutes - if that. In the picture you can see the deep water channel to the right of seal island. Just stay in that channel until you get there - then make a hard right and beach your boat. Make sure and bring an anchor or two to secure your boat. If not, as the tide comes in, you will find you boat floating away. Look for the water squirting up in the air. Dig around the hole intil the sand walls start to cave in. put your pvc pipe into the hole and emty it out with your shovel. After you get down a couple of feet, start to be carful that you dont smash the clam with your shovel. When you feel the sholvel hit hard surface, reach in and pull out your clam. Keep them moist and out of the sun - in a bucket - until you go back to camp. Lawson's web site has instructions on how to clean and prepare them. I mad chowder last year with the fresh clams we caught and it was awesome. Just be super diligent when you clean them to get all of the sand out. Good luck and have fun. *

04-05-2007, 03:11 PM
Mike you were posting at the exact same time I was :o. What a coincidence. I'm going to be at Lawsons for 4 days May 11, 12, 13, 14 for crabbing, clamming and maybe some rock fishing. You and the family should come. We are inviting all our friends!

04-05-2007, 03:20 PM
Sounds pretty cool Vito, I will run it by the wife ;D ;D I'll call ya later.

04-05-2007, 04:18 PM
i have done much clamming at lawsons. The last time out the island was getting hit hard and the big clams just went coming like in years past. We had always had good luck getting almost football sized clams. Across from the island on the inshore side the is a small channel. this seperates 2 pieces of land. there will be nobody usually at all on that far side of that channel. When we went over to that side to investiaget it we were into the huge clams. They were every were, we even got a few double pulls from same pipe. We always tried to get out on the best minus tide we could. We were younger and was fun to do well getting drunk also. Its alot of work and the best clams are down approx 5 feet. good luck though

04-05-2007, 05:10 PM
Great tips...thanks guys.

04-05-2007, 07:48 PM
Clamming at Lawsons was always a fun thing to do. Ditto for all the stories and info that all these sniffers already posted. We use to frequent the area between 1970's and 80's. The area was alive with sea life. I can remenber finding a squirt and the frantic digging to get the down to the shell. As you shoveled out loads of sand the sides kept caving in, so you had to shore up the sides of the hole would fill in. It was like a frantic race to get to the clam.

One thing we learned was to look at the exposed rock structure that was above the clambeds. We would look for places where you could see where there was a rock base underneath with no more than 3-4 ft sand above. Those places were easier to get to the clams because we knew the clams were trapped above the rock base and you didn't have to dig 5-6 ft down to get your prize. My uncle was a geologist so he had an eye for looking at the rock strata and the stress layers/lines and he could tell where the rock sloped down below the sandbeach. The proper slope line was about 30 degrees downwards. Any steeper slope meant deeper sand and more work digging.

A typical day would consist of getting there around HI tide. We would then find a nice undisturbed stretch of sandy beach. We had about 6-8 crab nets so we would place those out and spread them out about 50 yds apart, in different depths. Meanwhile, we would go back to the shore and set out a couple fishing poles out, tying them down to their sandspikes so they don't get pulled into the water. Then we would proceed to dig for clams because it was getting close to LO tide. After getting tired of digging and harvesting clams, it was time to check the nets and get a load of dungies. Then you haul the crabs to shore and proceeed to get the coleman stove going and start a pot of water going. Then a fishing pole's bell would be ringing away now you have fish. After that it's time to eat some fresh crab, take a rest, drink a beer and then boat out to the crabnets. Some of the nets were doing better that others, so you would move the slower nets closer towords the hotter nets. Now it's time to haul the new load of crabs back to shore, rest and then dig for more clams. Ooops, somebodies pole is ringing so now you have another fish. Time to rest and then it's time to check the nets. After moving your nets around to the best area, you will have them is a rather tight circle you have zeroed in to where the crabs are. Then you go for another cycle until you are drunk, tired, stomach full of crab, a bucket full of clams (and more crab to take home), and it's getting twords HI tide again and time to head home.

Sometimes we would boat out to Bird Rock and get abalone until we found out that the place is a migratory Great White area, so we stopped the ab diving. Going out into the surfline was a pretty hairy ride that you only need once to experience before you say that's all for me folks. Watching the rollers coming up and spanking your transom as your outboard engine is already hammered down is an eye opening thing to see and experience. Sorta like playing Russian Roulete without a revolver.

All in all, that place was a really fun place as all here can attest to. Too bad those days are gone. That was good clean fun indeed! This day just was a typical day. We have a tonfull of other stories about that place. I'd bet that these other Sniffers have enough stories that will keep this thread alive for a long, long time.

04-05-2007, 07:51 PM
If this is your first time clamming, be prepared to get DIRTY, MUDDY, AND WET! *I would highly recommend wearing a spring suit (like surfers wear) with booties. *Shoes will inevitably get stuck in the mud and ruined as will your clothes. *Be prepared to spend alot of time with your face in the stinky mud and water reaching into the 5 foot deep hole and feeling for the neck of your horse neck clam. *Its very hard to feel the clam with a shovel which can also damage the clam. *It also helps if you have long arms because the hole you dig will have to be very deep. *Look for the larger air holes in the sand - they indicate a thick neck and a larger, juicier clam. *The ones we caught averaged roughly 8" by 3". *You will be quite pleased with their size should your muddied efforts pay off. *If it doesn't suit you, try raking the sand for cockles - much cleaner and easier. *Happy hunting!


You very soon! *Notice the expression on his face. * :)


What you should hopefully end up with. * :P

04-05-2007, 10:00 PM
Oh man abdiver12 you made me actually LOL.That pic says it all ;D ;D

04-05-2007, 10:35 PM
while at Lawson's Landing. Where can you fish for rock fish round there? Thanks.

04-06-2007, 12:36 PM
hey was that clam a geoduck? I saw those on dirty jobs

04-06-2007, 12:42 PM
That's the exact same question I asked my buddy when I first saw one. I thought it was geoduck because it was so big. But no, its called a horseneck clam though many people will tell you it reminds them of something else! :) By the way, if you're really good and really lucky, you can find geoducks in Tomales Bay too but they're a rarity.