Good News, Clams Returning to GSB

Crabman

Angler
Jan 2, 2021
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Too many years ago, the Great South Bay was loaded with clams and scallops as well as flounders. The area I'm talking about is from Babylon to Heckscher State Park. Then the bottom fell out. It was blamed on over harvesting but that theory doesn't hold water. For the past twenty years there hasn't been any pressure on the clams from commercial harvesting. Many theories were suggested but none really seemed plausible. Bottomline, clams in the GSB in this area were almost non-existent. I worked with the DEC on transplant programs, basically we moved clams from one area to another. During that time I really had an opportunity to watch the destruction of our clam beds. The Town of Islip spent way too much money trying to seed the Bay east of the bridge. The program was a total flop. Islip doesn't have anymore clams east of the bridge in the transplant area then west of the bridge where there weren't any transplanted clams. Theories and assholes, everyone has one. Mine has always been water quality. When I was a kid (65 years ago), Snake Hill Channel was a regular boating channel lined with trees. Water flowed much harder in those days into the Bay. Today, SHC is opening up again. Slowly, but it is opening up. With that, the good news is, clams are really making a comeback. While we are a long way from the past, I am surprised how many healthy seed clams I have been finding in areas where there were none. In clean water, clams grow fast. That's happening again. Two years ago, I placed a half bucket of seed clams in an area and now they are top neck (a little bigger than little neck). Those clams were harvested early this year. I was very surprised how fast they grew. Today, I went searching with my grandson for hard clams. I know of the areas near Fire Island Inlet. I'm not interested in them. I want clams growing again in the GSB. Well, today we found numerous spots holding a lot of seed clams as well as every other size. What amazed me, was the amount of seed clams. For each little neck, I found two seed clams. We caught all we wanted today which was a full five gallon bucket of just legal to little neck. We culled and left all the larger clams. I don't harvest chowders, they spawn our spat (larvae). So, if you are a clam lover, get back out on the bay and go treading or break your back with a clam rake because the clams are out there and they are as delicious as ever.

Benji loves to rake. I like to tread.

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My grandson is the cook. He spiked up a clam puttanesca dish with anchovies and fish sauce. Oh Baby, this was a delicious meal. As a bachelor, if someone cooks it, I will eat it.

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pequa1

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Dec 23, 2018
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, it should be obvious
We could never afford boating when I was a kid as my father died when I was in first grade. Did get my first boat in my late 20s (1978) and Snakehill was a favorite destination, although only branches placed by some good samaritan showed the way as the trees were gone. With my second (and last) boat purchased in 1999 my forays were west, towards the JI. Never being a true clam lover (scallops are another story!) it wasn't until accidentally finding good grounds due south of where I live off the kayak that I returned to do some clamming, with a buddy who made some great dishes with them. Without a couple hundred yards of wading, it was and is inaccessible to boaters and maybe even to PWCs, but a great spot for kayakers, shin deep at low. Good to hear this. Flounder back next ?
 

Chinacat

Well-Known Angler
Dec 20, 2018
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That's great news!

Here in Shinnecock, they are, and always have been, thriving for those of us in the know of where to find 'em.
In my youth growing up in Moriches I was a summer time commercial clammer. Never used a rake, was always a treader.
So many times over the the recent years I see guys at the dock moaning theres no clams around, blah blah, blah and have a basket with maybe a dozen in it while I have an overflowing half bushel on board :D8-):D

Check out the "clams" thread in the catch & cook section...
Here's something from a few me and my son dug earlier this week...
IMG_0941[1].JPG
 

Crabman

Angler
Jan 2, 2021
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I also tread and like you did it throughout the summer in high school and college. I made a clam rake that I will use at times in the right spot. I saw someone had a rake like this and went home and welded this one up. With the butter knife teeth, it's used differently than a regular clam rake. This one is much easier on your back.

A379AD5B-ADBD-44E4-9556-6317A5B05B94.jpeg
 
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Chinacat

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Dec 20, 2018
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I also tread and like you did it throughout the summer in high school and college. I made a clam rake that I will use at times in the right spot. I saw someone had a rake like this and went home and welded this one up. With the butter knife teeth, it's used differently than a regular clam rake. This one is much easier on your back.

View attachment 52448
WOW
That is very impressive work!!
I agree that no matter how you do it, just go out and DO IT!
Some of my earliest memories are spending days on Moriches Bay with multiple boats of family and friends anchored up, swimming, eating, digging clams, getting mussels, AND Scallops and then backyard BBQ's feasting on the catch!
You are a very lucky and blessed man that you are able to spend time with your grandkids and make memories for them that they will cherish later in life!!!
 
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Crabman

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Jan 2, 2021
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China, don't tell anyone but we have been finding some scallops too. Let's keep our fingers crossed, how nice would it be to have both scallops and clams return? As for that rake, it's really cool to use and much easier on your back due to the thin teeth. A lot of them are felt on the backside of the teeth. You kind of push/pull the rake.

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Back twelve years ago, we used to walk in waders scooping scallops. A five-gallon bucket was four pounds of the sweetest treat from the bay.

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From what I have been seeing we might get a set of scallops this year. Not a lot but if the water stays clean, I think, perhaps they will make a comeback like the clams.
 

Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
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Dec 19, 2018
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pequa1 - when I was a mere yoot, we used to clam on the flats just East of the N/S Channel that runs alongside the Wantagh Parkway/Three Bridges area - specifically, North of the Black Banks and South of the
Bulkhead Drain.

Also, The flats around Squaw Island were always a solid bet for great clamming. No idea if its that way now - have never clammed from my current boat as it draws too much water to get that shallow.
 
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Crabman

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Jan 2, 2021
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To the west, the tide is influenced by Jones Inlet and has a bigger flow than FI. The closer you get to Jones, the more you will find clams and yes, the Squaw Island area still has plenty of clams. Interestingly, between Fox Island and Grass Island, the tide from Jones and FI split. One side goes east, the other side goes west.
 
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pequa1

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Dec 23, 2018
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, it should be obvious
pequa1 - when I was a mere yoot, we used to clam on the flats just East of the N/S Channel that runs alongside the Wantagh Parkway/Three Bridges area - specifically, North of the Black Banks and South of the
Bulkhead Drain.

Also, The flats around Squaw Island were always a solid bet for great clamming. No idea if its that way now - have never clammed from my current boat as it draws too much water to get too shallow.
its those Squaw Island flats that I clam when my buddy wants to do a clam bake. With a little gardening claw tool, I can do a 4/5 fill of a spackle bucket in 35 minutes. No exaggeration. Like I said, even a 14' Boston Whaler necessitates a long slog to get to my kayak spot. the area you mention is Town of Hempstead. I did live in Bellmore for four years when I had my first boat but never clammed there as I docked in Copaigue and then in Amityville and moved back to the pequas during that time.
 
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brozzi

New Angler
Apr 17, 2022
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It really is all about water quality. We are dealing with the same problem on the east end, scallops have all but disappeared and while some bays hold clams others are dead. It's amazing.
 
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Crabman

Angler
Jan 2, 2021
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@Crabman That is a great picture! What year is that Evenrude!
George, I'm guessing, could it be 1967 or older. I'm thinking, it doesn't look new and I think that photo was about 1969-70 when I was 17. It was an Evinrude 40hp on a 13'3" Boston Whaler. If you remember, the 40hp ran smooth. I always wanted one. I had a Johnson 33hp before the 40hp and it ran rough at idle but was almost as fast as the 40hp on a 13'3" Boston Whaler. Those were some really carefree, fun days. After school (9th-12th grade), five of us would leave in our individual boats from Sumpwans Creek in Babylon Village and rake clams in front of the Babylon Village Pool. We would stay out for 2 hours and on most days make $20. Back then for two hours of work, $10/hour was incredible for 15 year olds. It was a great group of friends. We were all within feet of each other. Trying to get the best grab. Everyone knew what you had by the clams rattling in the bullrake basket on the shake and dump.
 

Chinacat

Well-Known Angler
Dec 20, 2018
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George, I'm guessing, could it be 1967 or older. I'm thinking, it doesn't look new and I think that photo was about 1969-70 when I was 17. It was an Evinrude 40hp on a 13'3" Boston Whaler. If you remember, the 40hp ran smooth. I always wanted one. I had a Johnson 33hp before the 40hp and it ran rough at idle but was almost as fast as the 40hp on a 13'3" Boston Whaler. Those were some really carefree, fun days. After school (9th-12th grade), five of us would leave in our individual boats from Sumpwans Creek in Babylon Village and rake clams in front of the Babylon Village Pool. We would stay out for 2 hours and on most days make $20. Back then for two hours of work, $10/hour was incredible for 15 year olds. It was a great group of friends. We were all within feet of each other. Trying to get the best grab. Everyone knew what you had by the clams rattling in the bullrake basket on the shake and dump.
Crabman-
I'm a little younger and and the boat me and my brother had was a 1975 13'3 whaler with a 40hp Evinrude.
To this day that is still my favorite boat I ever had.
 

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