For me, foraging means incorporating every wild thing I possibly can into my days afield. This includes clams and clam digging.
I am old enough to remember when Mid-Coast Maine absolutely brimmed with open clam flats. We thought it would never end. It did, though, and not necessarily because the clams went anywhere. They didn’t. It’s just that the rules changed.
Municipalities began selling nonresident clamming licenses back in the 1970’s. I remember, because I had a Tri-Town license (Stockton, Searsport and, I think, Prospect).
That was all well and good, since the licenses were inexpensive and we had oodles of places to dig. But the topic of pollution reared its ugly head. As per the law, a beach is presumed polluted until proven not polluted. And the State of Maine has not money or people (and sometimes it seems to me, inclination) to go around and test the water in order to make a determination. So otherwise fine clam flats remain closed to harvesting.
Still, some areas have long been and remain, clean and open to clamming. Of these, some are open to the public without any strings…no license, no anything. Just go and dig your peck of clams.
Where are these wonderful places, you ask? State parks.
As much as local governments might like to charge a fee for clamming (they are governments, after all. Fees and licenses are, well, you get my drift), they are prohibited from doing so.
Reid State Park, for instance, offers some great opportunities.
Continuing up the coast, many state parks are closed because of real or suspected pollution (refer to statement above). The majority of open areas sit in Down East Maine. Beginning at Holbrook Island State Park in Brooksville and heading way up (or down, as in east) to Cobscook Bay, the public may harvest clams on state property in accordance with state laws.
My point in presenting this? I recently met a gentleman who wasn’t aware of the opportunities available in state parks. In fact, I don’t think he really believed me.
Of course we must always check first before grabbing clam hoe and hod and heading out on the flats. But for those who love nothing better than a mess of fresh-dug clams, our state parks provide that very opportunity.
With March just around the corner and the likelihood of above-freezing temperatures, I can think of nothing finer than to spend a few hours digging clams, listening to gulls and breathing in the fresh, salt air.
So if you enjoy clamming as much as I do, why not look into visiting a state park? You just might find a whole new world of fun and adventure.