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Crabbing, Clamming, & Fishing


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Table of Contents


  • By Boat
  • By Dock/Pier
  • Locations for Other Shellfish


  • Areas
  • Digging Techniques
  • Types of Clams


  • Regulations
  • Types of Fish
  • Locations


If you didn’t already know, Newport has been deemed “The Dungeness Capital of the World”! The Yaquina Bay is definitely the best spot to go—whether you choose to go by boat or just fish from the docks. The best times to go crabbing are September through the winter months, although the Bay is open to crabbing year round. The best times during the day to crab are when there is less difference between high and low tides, and during slack tides as the crabs are not pushed around by tidal exchanges. Avoid crabbing after heavy rains, which often swirl crabs around in the Bay and often limit their ability to feed.


  1. Each crabber must only use three pieces of crab gear —rings or pots.
  2. Harvest no more than 12 male Dungeness of at least 5 ¾ inches (per person)
  3. Harvest no more than 24 Red Rock crab, either sex and any size
  4. If in a boat, stay out of the navigation channel and away from boat traffic

Items you will need:

  1. A copy of the current Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations
  2. A “crab gauge” measuring tool
  3. Oregon Shellfish License : Resident $10.00 Annual
    Nonresident $28.00 Annual
  4. Warm clothes and gloves
  5. Bait (fresh) : turkey, chicken, clams, fish carcasses, small fish, or other meat scraps


  • Select a location to drop your pots or traps that is at least 20 feet deep; most charter boats are equipped with depth finders, but if you are renting an unchartered boat make sure to check the Bay at low tide for deep spots.
  • Use sinking line that is at least twice the estimated depth of the water to avoid getting tangled in boat propellers or swept away by erratic tidal currents.
  • Make sure that your pots or traps are heavy enough to sink all the way to the sandy bottom, and that your floats and buoys can be easily distinguished from other crabber’s gear.


  • Crabbing from a dock or pier is much easier and less expensive than crabbing from a boat, although the availability of crab is limited to the specific area that you choose to drop your traps.
  • The Port of Newport public fishing pier  in South Beach, and the Abbey Street and Bay Street piers of the Historic Bayfront are some of the best spots to crab.
  • Tie off the end of your crab line to the pier, and position your pots and rings so as to not interfere with boat traffic.

If you choose to use pots, leave them undisturbed for at least 45 minutes before pulling them in to examine your catch. With rings, let them sit at least 10 minutes before checking them, and then pull them up consistently and quickly to allow the basket shape to capture all of the crab in the trap. Crab rings and pots are inexpensive and available in many locations throughout the Newport area (try the fishing section of Walmart, Fred Meyer, or Eglund Marine), and renting them is even less expensive and might be the best choice for your first crabbing adventure.


THE BRIDGE BED, a great place to go clamming below the Yaquina Bay Hwy 101 bridge. Accessible from the Rogue brewery parking lot on the southeast corner of the bridge or from South Jetty Road. Gapers and cockles are most commonly found in this area with butter and littlenecks sparsely available. A rake works best in this area for cockles; a shovel is most effective for digging gapers.

IDAHO FLATS is accessed from several points along SE 35th Street (Idaho Point Rd), S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., or Hatfield Marine Science Center parking lot. Gaper, butter, cockle, and littleneck clams can all be found throughout these areas. For digging, a shovel would be best; a rake works for cockles.

SALLY’S BEND is accessed from Yaquina Bay Drive. Butter, cockle, and littleneck clams can all be found throughout this area. These mud flats can have soft spots in higher areas where ghost shrimp are prevalent and walking may be difficult. For digging, a shovel would be best; a rake works for cockles.

UPPER BAY includes some areas accessible by foot (many points along Yaquina Bay Dr and South Bay Road) and other portions of mud flats that can only be reached by boat. The Eastern softshell clam is abundant in these upper bay areas; other commonly harvested bay clams will not be found this high in the estuary. Softshell clams are usually found 8 to 16 inches below the surface.  A shovel or clam gun is most effective for digging in this area.


Last month we did a highlight on crabbing—which is so fun! We included some information on clamming, but thought we should go into more detail!

Yaquina bay is one of the best bays to go clamming in Oregon! Make sure you go clamming during a good low tide at this bay. Winter storms and high seas may be discouraging, however, if the seas are calm(ish) and the tides are low, clamming can be good throughout the winter. When going out, be sure to be prepared! Bring a bucket(s), shovel(s), rake(s) good waterproof boots and pants, rain jacket, your shellfish license, and your enthusiasm!

An Annual Shellfish License for a Resident is $10.00, and $28.00 for a non-resident. You can go HERE to learn more.

Each digger must have their own container, dig their own clams, and may not possess more than one limit of clams while in the clam digging area except under an Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit.

. . . . .


  • Bridge Bed One of the most popular clam beds in Yaquina Bay, the Bridge Bed hosts a very healthy population of gaper clams. This clam bed should only be visited at really low tides (less than -1.0) to access the best gaper clam beds. Clammers will also find cockles here, which can be raked on the sandier areas under the bridge.
  • Marina Bed This clam bed contains gaper clams and butter clams. The eastern portion of this bed is off-limits as it is part of an eelgrass mitigation project. See the kiosk near the bathroom for more information.
  • Breakwater This island is only accessible by boat. The north side of the breakwater island is the Yaquina Bay Shellfish Preserve and is off-limits of clamming. The south side is open for clamming and contains very productive gaper and butter clam beds. 
  • Idaho Flat This tide-flat is accessed by the trailhead east of the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center. Clammers have the most luck finding gaper clams by looking near the smaller channel that crosses the middle of Idaho Flat. Clammers also can find good numbers of cockles here but they tend to be smaller than in other areas.
  • Raccoon Flat Infrequently visited, this flat can be accessed by boat and has gaper clams.
  • Sallys Bend The two access points for the Sally’s Bend tide-flat are the gas plant on the west side and Coquille Point to the east. This tide-flat is very muddy so be prepared to get dirty. Those who do venture into Sally’s Bend typically find cockles but occasionally littlenecks and gaper clams.


  • Dig around the show, coming in from the side, and not straight down on it to avoid slicing off the neck or breaking the shell.
  • When you’ve dug almost to the depth of the clam, feel around gently with the shovel or your hand so you don’t break the shell. Although a clam with a broken shell is still good, the sharp edges of a broken shell can be dangerous.
  • After you’ve removed the clam refill the hole.

. . . . .


    About: Gaper clams are found in several Oregon estuaries. They are known by a variety of names including blue, empire, horse and horse-neck clams. They are Oregon’s largest common clam. Geoducks can grow much larger (as much as 10 pounds!) but are rarely found south of Puget Sound in Washington. 
    Daily limit: 12, out of a total of 20 bay clams (regulations)
    Use: Clam steaks, chowder
    Digging method: shovel
    Habitat: high salinity sandy and/or muddy areas
    Digging tips: Dig around the show, coming in from the side, and not straight down on it to avoid slicing off the neck or breaking the shell. When you’ve dug almost to the depth of the clam, feel around gently with the shovel or your hand so you don’t break the shell. Although a clam with a broken shell is still good, sharp edges of a broken shell can be dangerous. After you’ve removed the clam refill the hole.

About: Butter clams are found throughout Oregon’s nearshore areas and larger estuaries. Butter clams are excellent burrowers and abundant in shell, sandstone and even rocky areas. Diggers harvest most butter clams from sandy and muddy substrates where it’s easier to dig. Butter clams are most often found in large estuarine systems, such as Coos, Tillamook, and Yaquina, because of their higher salinity preference. They are known by a variety of names including Washingtons, Martha Washingtons, Beefsteak, Quahog.
Daily limit: 20, in aggregate with other bay clams (regulations)
Use: chowder, steamed, steaks
Digging method: shovel, potato fork
Habitat: high salinity gravel, mud, or sandy areas
Digging tips: Butter clams have a distinctive rectangular show. The shape is usually described as looking like a flathead screwdriver was stuck in the mud. 

About: Cockles are “hard shelled” clams and because of their stout shells, they do not have to bury as deeply as other common bay clams. Larger cockles can even be found feeding on the sand’s surface. Cockles are one of few bay clams that are known to move horizontally through the estuary. They are actually quite fast movers by bending their highly-developed muscular foot then quickly straightening it out to “jump” as far as a foot or two at a time.
Daily limit: 20, in aggregate with other bay clams (regulations)
Use: chowder, steamed
Digging method: rake, hand
Habitat: high salinity sandy areas
Digging tips: Rake through the sand until you feel the clunk of the hard shell

About: Littleneck clams are highly prized. They are found in rocky or gravelly areas of high, stable salinity. These clams are often confused with Manila littleneck clams, a smaller related (but non-native) clam available on local markets. Only Coos, Yaquina and Tillamook bays have littleneck clams.

About: Softshell clams occur in almost all of Oregon’s estuaries and they can range very high into the estuary. Softshell clams are native to the East coast, and are believed to have been introduced to Oregon in the late 1800s, about the same time people tried to establish a fishery for the eastern oyster. 
Daily limit: 36 (regulations)
Use: chowder, steamed, steaks
Digging method: shovel, clam gun
Habitat: brackish, muddy areas
Digging tips: Unlike the other four common species of bay clams, softshell clams they are found not just in the lower estuary, but fairly high up as well. Softshell clams have variable shows. They are generally round, but can also be oblong or rectangular.

About: Purple varnish clams were recently introduced to Oregon, most likely from ballast waters from Asia. Purple varnish clams are found in very high densities. Limits were recently increased and separated to allow increased harvest of these.  Up to 72 are allowed per day.


They can be found in stable, sandy, surf-swept beaches. Razor clams have the ability of digging up to a foot per minute and have been found more than four feet deep in the sand.

Digging Method: Razor clams may be taken by hand, shovel, clam gun or tube with opening no less than 4” (cylindrical) or 4” X 3” (elliptical).

Daily Limit: First 15 dug (no sorting or releasing)


Newport and Depoe Bay are among some of the best access points in Oregon for offshore fishing of salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, lingcod, rockfish, and others.


Annual Angling License

Oregon Resident: $44.00

Non-Resident: $110.50

Fishing Regulations for the Oregon Coast

Statewide Regulations:

  • Anglers fishing for salmon and all anglers fishing from boats with a salmon on board are limited to no more than 2 single point barbless hooks per line, and no more than one line per angler.
  • It is unlawful to fish for or take and retain any legal species while possessing on board any species not allowed to be taken in that area at that time.
  • Minimum lengths: Chinook = 24-inches, coho = 16-inches, steelhead = 20-inches, no minimum length for pink, chum or sockeye salmon in the ocean fishery.
  • Refer to the 2020 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for descriptions of special marine management areas including closed areas and additional restrictions.


SALMON2020 Oregon Ocean Salmon Sport Seasons

  • All purpose use:
    • Rod: 9.5 ft long, medium to heavy action
    • Reel: level wind
    • Line: 15-30 pound braided
    • Lure and tackle: spreader bar, 5-8oz dropper, spin ‘n glo, #2 octopus hook baited with artificial salmon eggs
  • The largest of the salmon, Chinook, tend to be 12 -15 pounds in Oregon
  • Habitat: They live partially in the ocean, and partially in freshwater

PACIFIC HALIBUT2020 Pacific Halibut Sport Regulations – These are quota fisheries that can close early, so make sure to double check the open dates before fishing.

  • All purpose use:
    • Rod: 6-7 ft
    • Reel: double action
    • Line: 60-70 braided
    • Lure and tackle: single or double hook rig with herring bait
  • When hauling fish from 350 ft or even 100 ft, it can be tough work and you’ll probably need a second person.
  • In Oregon, tend to be 24 inches – 50 inches in length but can get much larger
  • Habitat: cold water, bottom of the ocean up to 75 ft – 750 ft deep

LINGCOD – Two fish per day, 22-inch minimum size

  • All purpose use:
    • Rod: 9-10.5 ft stout rod able to cast up to 4 ounces
    • Reel: Low profile bait casting reel or spinning reel
    • Line: 20# monofilament or 40# to 50# braided line
    • Leader: 30# to 40# mono
  • In Oregon, tend to be 2 – 3 ft long
  • Habitat: Adults like to be near rocks, inshore and up to 1,300 ft deep


  • All purpose use:
    • Rod: 6.5-7 ft rod medium to heavy action
    • Reel: Spinning
    • Lure and tackle: Best bait is sardines and anchovies
  • In Oregon, can grow to be 25 inches long
  • Habitat: Rocky reefs, usually 180 ft depth or less, along jetties and estuaries

SURFPERCH – 15 fish aggregate of all species per day

  • All purpose use:
    • Rod: 9-11 ft able to handle 2-6oz weight
    • Reel: Spinning reel with 200-300 yds of line
    • Line: 15-30 lb monofilament line
    • Bait: mole crabs, marine worms, sand shrimp
  • In Oregon, can grow up to 15 inches long
  • Habitat: Shallow waters along beaches, rocky areas, or in estuaries along piers and docks

TUNA – 25 fish per day

  • All purpose use:
    • Rod: 5-7 ft able to handle upwards of 100 pounds in some cases
    • Reel: lever drag
    • Line: braided
    • Bait: live fish, such as herring
  • In Oregon, 21 to 35 inches long
  • Habitat: Open ocean


    • Alsea River and Bay

Great river system for excellent fall Chinook salmon and winter steelhead fishing. Chinook salmon here is best in September and October, with most catches coming from the bay near Waldport. When rains entice salmon upriver, the lower sections of the river are best to fish.

Alsea River steelhead fishing is better in the free-flowing river above the tidewater. There are also native cutthroat trout to fish here and the bay has shellfishing.

  • Yaquina Bay and River

Yaquina Bay in Newport is one of Oregon’s best fishing bays for all types. There is year-round fishing from the jetties for perch, greenling, flounder and rockfish, with occasional lingcod. Salmon is usually late summer and early fall, with Chinook usually caught in the bay and tidewater areas.

    • Depoe Bay – Depoe BayGood reef structure offers a variety of bottomfish such as rockfish and lingcod. In season, salmon, halibut, and albacore tuna can be fished as well. Salmon catches here often top 1,000 to 3,000 chinook and 5,000 coho.
    • Newport – Yaquina BaySome of the best ocean Chinook fishing and bottom fishing trips for lingcod and other rockfish go all year from Newport. Halibut and tuna fishing is popular in season. Ocean salmon catches can even reach 12,000 coho and 7,000 chinook. Newport is Oregon’s major deep-water halibut-fishing port.

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