My first effort had been down near Gearhart, but a chat with my neighbor, a diligent clammer who had bagged a nice limit the day before, sent me up north on the beach toward Warrenton. The winter tides don’t draw much attention so I had the beach pretty much to myself. As I passed the wreck of the Peter Iredale, I saw a couple of pickups parked in the sand and could make out the shape of a couple of guys working the beach, pounding the sand with their shovels.
I parked my truck and grabbed my shovel. I had put on my waders at home so I was ready to hit the beach as soon as I parked. The beach was a little different from the area I had been working. Every day the beach changes—almost like it’s alive. The first thing I noticed was how flat the beach was showing. The waves were traveling a very long way up the beach. At any one time you could see a couple of hundred yards of wet sand.
Joining my fellow diggers on the beach, I could see where this wasn’t going to be easy. Neither one had a single clam in his bag. “I heard they were showing pretty good yesterday,” I offered to the closest sand pounder. “You bet,” he replied. “By this time on the tide I had my limit, nice clams too! But today I can’t find a thing!”
That’s a story I hear pretty often on my fishing trips! The guys were a good ways away from the surf, so I tried getting a little closer. You can never tell where the clams will hang out, but usually the farther out you get, the better your chances of getting to a bed that hasn’t been picked over. Sure enough, after I snuck about a hundred yards down the gradual slope, I got a couple of good shows.
If you pound the wet sand with your shovel handle, razor clams will pull in their necks. In the process they make a little hole or “show” in the sand. I saw a couple of nice shows and managed to dig up a few clams for my bag. Nothing to it, all I needed was to get a little closer to the surf!
The waves were not very big, and even though they ran up the beach a ways, I wasn’t too worried. It did surprise me that my fellow clammers weren’t coming down with me, but they were older fellows, so maybe they didn’t want to walk so far. I worked my way another 50 yards toward the surf, and started pounding. Sure enough, two big holes. I kneeled down on one knee and reached in the hole I had dug.
I don’t remember hearing anything, but something made me look up just as the water reached me. A rising wave of water, no more than two feet deep, hit me right on my chest. I tried to stay put, waiting for it to pass, but the wave pushed me so hard I was driven up the beach. My shovel dragged the sand like a rudder while I was pushed on and on. My right knee was scraping the sand and I stayed in the same position, kneeling, facing the water for several seconds, and getting a free ride up the sandy slope.
I was starting to think I was going to be able to ride it out with no problem when another layer of water rose over the first wave. This one was trouble. The first wave was holding at mid-chest level, the second came over the top and hit me flush in the face. Not only was I having trouble getting a breath, but also the water was pouring through the opening near my neck and filling my waders! I couldn’t believe how far these little waves had pushed me!
Finally, just as I was starting to panic, the waves subsided and I collapsed on the sand. Without the wave pressure, I couldn’t stay upright with the load of water in my waders! I caught my breath, unstrapped myself and pulled the tops of the waders off to get rid of enough water to stand. Looking up, I saw that I was only a few yards from my truck!
The two clammers came over to check on my health. “Man did you take a ride up the beach!” the first one laughed. “We were waiting to see you tumble—you looked like a surfer on a board.” The second chimed in, “We couldn’t believe how far you went out, I guess you aren’t used to this beach.”
If I hadn’t been so cold, I would have turned red with embarrassment! And then it got worse. As my brain got a little blood to it, I remembered what was in my vest pocket. As I unzipped my vest, I could feel the vibrations—my new cell phone was in its death throes! I tried to get it dry with a towel in the truck, but it kept vibrating and slowly passed on to phone heaven.
Not only was I going home freezing cold and soaking wet, but my wife was going to kill me!
Stripping off my clothes in the mud room, I caught a pretty good scolding. My wife didn’t think we had enough life insurance for me to be that stupid, and my phone didn’t have any insurance! After I got out of the shower I cleaned up the few clams I had salvaged and tried the new recipe. It was great, even if I could only cook up a half batch!
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Bob Ellsberg’s column, Fishin’, appears monthly in RV Life and rvlife.comResearch Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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