Discovering Rhode Island’s Quahog Tradition: A Beginner’s Journey


Bullrakers and divers who harvest from beds of the Narragansett Bay shoreline are at the center of Rhode Island’s quahog fishery.

Their efforts provide grocery stores, seafood dealers, and restaurants with delicious mollusks that finish up on our dinner plates. They are also the ones raising concerns about a fall in quahog populations in the Bay.

However, quahogs can still be discovered in Rhode Island, and you do not need to be an expert to acquire them.

What Are the Requirements for Harvesting Quahogs and Clams?

They are accessible without the use of a long-handled rake or boat. Just walk around the beach at low tide and you should be able to dig for clams.

A particular clam rake with a basket on the end is quite useful, but you can also use garden tools or, like the original residents of the region did, feel for quahogs with your feet, a practice known as treading.

Make sure you have a clam gauge with you so you don’t grab any young quahogs that are less than one inch thick at the hinge.

Other supplies you’ll need include an ice-filled cooler to keep your harvest, a hat, sunscreen, wet-weather clothing, and water shoes.

Do You Need a License to Go Clamming in Rhode Island? And What’s the Daily Limit?

Unlike commercial shellfishers, recreational harvesters in Rhode Island do not require a license to go clamming. Non-residents must obtain a license, which costs $11 for 14 days and $200 for the year. A non-resident property owner may purchase an annual license for $25.

The daily harvest restriction in shellfish management areas is one peck, which equals two dry gallons. In non-shellfish management regions, the limit is half a bushel or approximately four dry gallons. If those amounts are difficult to visualize, you can get peck and half-bushel baskets from a hardware store or bait shop. You will need floats to accompany them.

Quahogging is permitted from sunrise to sunset year-round, but limits may apply according to water conditions. For the most recent information, call the Department of Environmental Management’s hotline at 222-2900.

Where is the Finest Place to Go Clamming in Rhode Island?

Some popular destinations are Potter Cove in Jamestown, the waters around Bristol Town Beach, Point Judith Pond in Narragansett, Rocky Point in Warwick, and Sapowet Marsh in Tiverton.

However, remember that quahogging for the first time is difficult no matter where you go. It takes practice to fill a basket with ease.

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