How to Find and Gather Freshwater Clams and Mussels

A step by step instructional guide on how to find and gather Freshwater Clams and Mussels.

Mussels, clams and other bivalves are aquatic filter feeders that line many of the world's banks and shorelines from marine seas and oceans to freshwater rivers, lakes and streams. This article will be focusing upon those found in freshwater. Take a look at the following steps and consider the next time you find yourself near a body of freshwater. Survival situation or not, being able to locate and gather these shelled creatures that often go unnoticed can be an incredibly useful skill.

Note: Before engaging in "clamming," consult your local and federal laws concerning the many threatened and endangered species of freshwater clams and mussels that you might come across. Remember that ignorance is not a viable defense if caught breaking the law.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Clamming is an activity that requires almost no preparation or forethought. At its most basic level, you'll need (1.) your hands to find and gather the clams and (2.) a bag/basket/container of some sort to store and carry the clams. Additional gear such as a snorkel, gloves, and other aquatic swimwear that can make the process more comfortable are options. You'll eventually develop preferences and techniques in accordance with the characteristics of your region. With these basic tools you're almost ready to begin Clamming.

Note: The minimalistic nature of clamming makes this form of meat acquisition an extremely important skill to have in survival situations.

Step 2: Locate a Suitable Body of Freshwater

Locating a suitable site to engage in clamming can often be found much closer than imagined. Waterways and reservoirs are the lifeblood of us humans with the majority of cities, towns and roadways having been built around or near reliable water sources. Of these aquatic areas, a number of different shelled filter feeders can usually be found to have made the mud and sedimented banks their home. Depending upon the type and make-up of the bank, clam location might even be possible without getting wet!

Around your water source, walk the banks to determine the layout of your area. Pay special attention to features such as fast moving waters and obstacles both on land and submerged below the water that could potentially pose a danger. While scouting, you should also look for signs of clams and mussels. Often times clam and mussel shells will be visible on gravel banks, washed up on shore, or in shallow or dried areas where they have died and are easily visible open and atop the surface. Finding a few of the deceased clams and mussels can give an indication of what clam and mussel species are present, as well as their relative sizes.

Note: Not finding signs of clams/mussels does not mean that they are not present. Additionally, the species that you do find evidence of will likely be accompanied by other types of clams/mussels once you begin gathering under the water.

Step 3: Wade In and Begin Gathering

To gather clams/mussels, you are obviously going to have to get wet. If temperatures are low, be sure to have a fire or method of drying off and warming close at hand. Keeping close to the bank, begin to feel around for the contours under the water. Using hands to feel your way around will likely be the only way to sense and find your quandary. The most densely populated groups of clams/mussels are typically found in waters that are high in nutrients, which means that visibility is often poor.

Once you've gotten used to the water and gotten a feel for the lay of the bank it is time to begin your search. To begin, face the bank and with fingers spread rake the ground from bank pulling towards yourself.

Step 3: Grade your Clams/Mussels

Step : Watch this Video to See How It's Done

Not a step, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video ought to be worth at least a thousand

Click on the video above to see how it's done. Check out my YouTube Channel to see more Videos like this one:

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