Most invitations from Larry, our next door neighbor from Gasquet, turn out to be huge adventures (and always learning experiences). Today’s clamming on Crescent Beach, just below the lookout south of town, was no different.
I met Larry and brother Jim this morning around 7. I’m not sure when they arrived, but I needed coffee, and I had to drop Meg off in town, so I showed up a bit later than they. As I made my way toward the trailhead from the road to the beach I passed maybe 20 or 30 people already at it, clumps of folks trolling for razor cla
ms, some out in the surf with shovels pounding on the sand, others stomping on the damp sand near but not in the bubbly.
I spotted Larry’s truck off in the weeds, parked nearby, and as I trudged through the bush and on to the beach I spotted them a100 yards or so to the south.
Larry gave me some instruction on how to pound the sand with the butt of the shovel, eyeing a 360 degree field around the spot being pounded, looking for the telltale gush of water from the clam as it quickly retracted its siphon. The alternate method, stomping on the sand and similarly looking for a pencil-sized hole indicating the clam had just quickly pulled in its siphon.
Like most fishing and foraging, signs of life are extremely subtle. I never s
potted a single gusher and had to settle for claiming my clam (just one for the day) only after Jim had spied the air hole on the beach.
Still, it was an excellent adventure. Add to the clamming seeing a herd of elk that momentarily blocked the roadway as they crossed from west to east. And we had a completely unnerving experience of watching a river otter take what looked like a morning jog on the beach. He just came running up the beach, threading in and out of the water, to the right, left and in between clammers who looked on in disbelief.
What an odd and beautiful thing to see on day I could have started sitting at the kitchen table instead of clamming with my friends Larry and Jim.