2024 Official Maine Camping Guide - 63

DIGGING CLAMS in Downeast Maine
- By Crystal Hitchings
I love mud between my toes on a summer day, at
the edge of the sea, pants rolled above the knees, up
to the elbows and ankles in mud. Clams for supper!
Imagine stoking coals at a beachside fire, seaweed
wrapped around fresh-dug clams, steaming up a
scent of toasted ocean as a rising tide slowly swallows
your footprints in the mud flats.
Most people wear rubber gloves and boots and dig
clams with a 4-tined rake called a hoe. My father
used one of these, and a wooden slatted basket
called a roller. Digging clams was his main income
during good weather, along with raking blueberries.
We ate a lot of clams in the 1970's, when they were
a lot more plentiful. Clam landings drastically declined
across Maine in the 1980's, especially along
the Bold Coast. Today, the clamming industry is kept
alive by the careful management of coastal Maine
communities, including the seeding of clams to enhance
wild stocks.
Clams are a longtime staple to the Downeast region's
peoples. Shell heaps from native settlements
are scattered along the coast, including at Machias,
Passamaquoddy, Cobscook, and Frenchman Bays,
and at Bar Harbor (in Wabanaki, the " clam-gathering
place. " ) The Massachusetts Colonial Ordinance
of 1641-1647 granted every household " free fishing
and fowling as far as the tide doth ebb and flow. "
Maine retained this law when it became a state in
1820. To learn more about clam digging past and
present, check out the Downeast Fisheries Trail at
www.downeastfisheriestrail.org.
Contact Tours of Lubec and Cobscook, for a familyfriendly,
touchable-tour, try digging at Cobscook Bay
State Park, where campers may dig up to a peck of
clams per person. Check with park staff for details,
or ask a local if they will take you! To experience
eating clams while on your visit to Downeast Maine
(even if you want to skip the mud and just eat them
at a restaurant!) contact an area Chamber of Commerce.
Knowledgeable chamber staff will help you
discover your fresh-harvested seafood supper experience
of a lifetime.
COPYRIGHT T.J. DIBIASE
The Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research
& Education, located on Beal's Island, raises
between three and five million seed clams annually
for 60 Maine communities. The Downeast Institute
offers guided tours of their shellfish nursery. More
information is available at
www.downeastinstitute.org.
MAINE CAMPING GUIDE * 2024
| 63
DOWNEAST & ACADIA
http://www.downeastinstitute.org http://www.downeastfisheriestrail.org

2024 Official Maine Camping Guide

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of 2024 Official Maine Camping Guide

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2024 Official Maine Camping Guide - Cover1
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