If you’re fortunate enough to visit Alaska for a week or longer, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use your fishing tackle. But if you want to mix it up a little, check out some of the native mollusks and crustaceans. Alaska is ripe with clams and crabs that will make a tasty addition to your fish fry. And, what better way to spend a day at the beach or out on the water? Fishing for crabs and clams can be a lot of fun.
Anglers can enjoy fishing for dungeness crabs nearly all year round in Southeast Alaska. Dungeness crabs are different in appearance from king or snow crabs because their legs are shorter and smaller relative to their bodies. Also, spines on the top side, the shell are absent from dungeness crabs. These crabs can grow to be more than 6 inches wide and typically weigh around 2 pounds. Mature male crabs can be even larger.
Not every crab can be kept. Only male crabs that are 6 and a half inches or greater can be harvested. There are also regulations concerning how many Crab and Salmon each individual can harvest. Be careful handling Dungeness crabs. These crustaceans have strong pincers that can strike at any time and leave quite a mark.
Equipment for crab fishing can include ring nets, dip nets, diving gear and hooked or hook less handlines, but most recreational crab fishermen just use traditional crab pots. Occasionally crabs can be spotted on the beach and picked up there. Crab pots are usually baited with dead fish bodies. Effective baits include salmon, cod and herring and halibut carcasses.
On the Pacific coast, there are only about 8 places where you can find large populations of razor clams. The Eastern side of Cook Inlet in Alaska is one of those places. These small mollusks are highly prized and often sold for over $10 a pound. Digging for clams can be a great way to spend a few hours on the beach, and no experience is required.
Razor clams can be identified by long and narrow shells that are yellowish brown in color. Razor clams are usually smaller than a dollar bill but can grow to be longer than 7 inches.
Two of the best beaches for finding razor clams are Deep fryer and aptly named Clam Gulch. When digging for razor clams, the only pieces of equipment required are clam shovels and buckets. Low tide is the best time to dig for clams. A small indentation on the sand is a good indicator of a clam’s presence. When you see an indentation of this kind, start digging, but are careful not to break the fragile shell of the clam. Take caution when handling razor clams as the shells are very sharp.
Whenever you feel like changing up your fishing routine, try your hand at crab or clam fishing. Digging clams on Alaska’s beaches or crabbing on the water is good fun. Happy fishing!