By Jan Jackson –
LINCOLN CITY, Ore. – Veteran clamming and crabbing expert Bill Lackner is back this year to lead the free clinics in Lincoln City. All you need to bring are gloves (to protect your hands), a shovel or crab trap (you can buy them from Bill), a five-gallon bucket and a $7 (check for current fee) annual shellfish license for everyone in your party who is 14 years of age or older. Lackner starts each clinic with 45- to 60-minute evening session at the city’s Driftwood Library to teach participants the rules and the ethics of recreational clamming and/or crabbing. Then the next morning he meets you in the mud flats of Siletz Bay for clamming or on the north shore of the bay in Taft for crabbing. This is an activity you can do as a family, by yourself or with a date. All ages are welcome and you get to take home your legal catch.
Lackner, founder of the Clam Diggers Association of Oregon and author of eight books on clamming and crabbing, lives with his wife in Newport.
“I was born and raised in Los Angeles and grew up spending as much time as I could fishing from the San Pedro breakwater, the rocky shores, surf fishing, and crabbing for both lobster and crabs,” Lackner said. “I came to Newport the first time, to visit my mother. That was in 1980, and I never left. I’m retired businessman, which gives me the time to write, lecture, teach and develop new ways to share my passion for clamming and crabbing.”
Before the onset of white settlement in 1895, Siletz Bay was an established fishing and hunting grounds for the Siletz Indians, a branch of the Salish or Salishan Indians that inhabited the region. The first white settlers to the area were fishermen who were attracted by the large number of salmon that could be found in the Siletz. Quick to follow were farmers and homesteaders. In 1991, Siletz Bay became part of the 100-acre Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge established to return the salt marsh to its natural state.
The Clam Diggers educate the public. They help identify areas of concern to recreational harvesters, strengthen clam-digging regulations, improve clam digging ethics and education and promote recreation stock enhancement of geoduck clams. Lackner is also concerned about the rising level of sediment causing a declining in the number of maritime species that utilize the bay.
“It is wonderful recreation for all kinds of people and the City of Lincoln City is very supportive,” Lackner said. “It is fun to see how excited the little kids get when they find they can actually do it themselves. I remember one little tyke that was happy having dug just one clam. That seemed to be all he needed to do — he walked around all day with it and he couldn’t be tempted to dig for any more. Then there was the little girl that ran up to me so excited she had already collected 107. Her surprised and shocked father went ashen because the limit per person per day is 36.”
Oregon residents make up about two-thirds of the people who take the clinic though people come from other states as well. In addition to the wonderful clams and crabs, Bills enthusiasm, expertise and cooking tips bring them back for more.
“I got a letter from one man who said, ‘Bill, we enjoyed the clamming and crabbing in Siletz Bay so much we bought a house in Taft so we could do it more often.’ It’s a great sport. “
For a detailed schedule of clam and crab clinics, visit http://www.oregoncoast.org/catch-your-dinner/ For more information about Bill Lackner, visit http://www.clamdigging.info