Netarts Bay

Netarts Bay Oregon's sixth largest is one of the pearls of the Three Capes Scenic Loop. Netarts Bay is more like a tidal basin than a bay because it receives a limited amount of freshwater from the small streams flowing into it. 

Oysters grown in the bay are renowned for their quality and flavor because of the high quality of the water.  The freshwater entering the bay has minimal effect on the salinity of the saltwater in the bay and for this reason the bay is noted more for the excellent crabbing and clam digging than for fishing. 

It is dangerous to attempt to cross the bar at Netarts Bay at anytime.  Use caution when boating in the lower bay.  The high velocity of the outgoing tide can pull a small boat across the bar into the surf.

Redtail surfperch, pileperch, walleye surfperch, silver surfperch, striped seaperch and white seaperch enter the bay for most of the year to feed.  Fishing ranges from good to excellent from spring through fall and from poor to fair in winter.  Fishing is excellent at the Boiler Hole just south of the boat launch in the lower half of the bay and in the channels adjacent to the tidal flats.

Kelp greenling, whitespotted greenling and rock greenling enter the bay with the tide.  The best fishing occurs during the fall and in the spring in the lower bay.  Sea trout and perch are often caught in the same areas.

Black rockfish and copper rockfish are caught in Netarts Bay but the fishing is inconsistent.     

Starry Flounder fishing ranges from poor for most of the year to fair in early spring.

Bank Fishing is on the north shore at the entrance to the bay.  Turn west onto Happy Camp Road and drive to the beach access parking area.  Parking is extremely limited.

The Netarts Bay boat launch is located on the north shore at Netarts.

Crabbing Netarts Bay: On 10/11 Al from the Big Spruce RV Park and Boat Rental reports: Lots of crabs in the bay. Limits are common. One rental boat with 4 crabbers limited out in an hour and a half this morning.................... Remember crabbers who rent boats do not spend as much time on the water as crabbers who own their own boat......... Al and Lorna not only rent boats and all the gear for crabbing they run a first class operation with full hookups and pull thrus. Call I 503 842 7443 or toll free 1 877 651 9342 for information or reservations.

On 09/22 one of my crabbing friends took 6 Dungeness and 3 large red rock crabs using Crab Max crab traps from the beach at Happy Camp. Crabbing in Netarts Bay has been great but crowded.

Clam digging in Netarts Bay is renowned for all species of clams. All species of clams, gaper clams, cockles, butter clams, softhsell clams, steamer clams, razor clams and geoduck clams, are dug from the tidal flats of Netarts Bay. The shellfish preserve in Netarts Bay is closed the the taking of shellfish and extends from an East/West line beginning at the mouth of Whiskey Creek to an East/West line 900 yards south.

On 08/01 My friends returned to Netarts Bay to search for large softshell clams but without success I managed to dig but one softshell clam; however, diggging for gaper clams, butter clams and Manila clams was productive.

On 07/21 I was not satisfied with the Manila clams I dug on 07/17 and returned to Netarts Bay to dig for larger Manila clams. My effort was rewarded when my clam dog and I tried another spot further up the bay. The 5 inch softshell clam pictured on the left vrs the Fat gaper clams on the right. The large softshell clam was a surprise and I intend on returning tomorrow to see if the old man has enough juice to dig a limit of softshell clams and a limit of bay clams. Click HERE to view the short video clip of the clams I dug.

On 07/17 My wife, Diane and I drove to Whiskey Creek to dig for Manila Clams, but it was raining when we arrived and Diane waited in the SUV while I dug clams. I met a young lady who had raked a limit of Manila clams leaving the Fish Hatchery and asked her for a heads up on where to go. She told me to go past the stick sticking out of the mud and go north to dig clams. I followed her advice and dug a limit of Manila clams. It was not until I set down at home and viewed the video of my clam digging adventure that I realized the meaning of the series of the sticks in the mud extending across the tidal flats. Are they the boundary markers for the OSU Shellfish Reserve? While I was out digging clams my wife informed me that an OSP officer drove into the parking area and disappeared into the tree. The importance of the sticks in the mud and the OSP officer walking into the trees became apparent. He was looking for diggers digging in the Shellfish Reserve. I looked in the 2012 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations and could not find any reference to boundary location markers. I had a great time digging Manila clams at Whiskey Creek. You will enjoy raking for Manila clams there.

On 06/09 Josh Kling and friends went clam digging at Netarts Bay for gaper and butter clams. The group camped at Cape Lookout State Park over the weekend. I had a great time heling those folks that were new to digging clams. You do not have to dig a limit of butter clams to enjoy them. My wife and I just loved the butter clams I dug.

On 06/04 I went clam digging for razor clams on Cape Lookout Spit with my friend Rick and his daughter Kalen. I dug 1 razor clams out of the 3 shows in the wet sand. One of the other 5 diggers had 2 razor clams. I noticed a number of molted female crab shells on the beach, which means the males are still being occupied by the females outside of the bay. Crabbing in the bay is still slow but has picked up somewhat. After failing to dig razor clams we decided to dig bay clams at Netarts Bay

My buddy Rick and his daughter dug limits of mostly butter clams from the tidal flats in Netarts Bay. We took his boat and looked for clams on the isolated tidal flats near the mouth of the bay. Rick dug one 5 1/2 inch razor clam. It was the only one we found. However, we did find a small pocket of large gaper clams, that we will dig the next time out.

On 06/02 and 06/03 Netarts Bay Clam Clinic 2012 was attended by 42 participants dug limits of bay clams.

Netarts Bay Clam Clinic 2011 over the July 4th weekend was a success with everyone going home with a limit of gaper clams and some went home with a full limit of bay clams consisting of 12 gaper clams and 8 other hard shell clams. The dig did not go as intended. The poorly written clam digging regulations resulted with one third of the diggers exceeding the limit of gaper clams while digging for butter clams. Click on the following links to view the event part one, or view the event part two.

Part one: the little guy shows what recreational clam digging is all about. Part two shows the depth of incompetence of ODFW and OSP.

Later on OSP officers objected to one of my other video clips and forced me to remove it from Youtube by threating the job security of one of my friends. He was afraid of losing his job and asked me to remove the video. I regret now that I did.

The ODFW has failed to accept the recommendations to change the crabbing and clam digging regulations submitted by the Clam Diggers Association honestly but instead chose to use deception and dishonesty. One of our recommendations would have corrected the problem of digging too many gaper clams, while another would have created recreational opportunity for disabled persons to participate in recreational crabbing. When I asked one of the staff members why our recommendations were rejected that ODFW staff commented, "How can you expect cooperation from ODFW when you write letters to the ODFW Commission and to the Governor complaining about our policies?" The comment revealed their intentions and contradicted their commitment to the Clam Diggers Association. ODFW lied to us and then conveniently left us out of the loop without comment and any ability to appeal the rejection or our recommendations to improve clam digging and crabbing regulations.

We met at the Tillamook Library on Saturday July 2 nd at 11:30 am for a lecture on digging the clams common to Oregon's coastal waters followed by a period for questions and answers. The Tillamook City library is located at 1716 3rd St in Tillamook. We met on Sunday morning July 3rd at the turnout south of the intersection of Whiskey Creek RD and Netarts Bay RD. at 08:15 - 08:30. Our focus was on gaper clams. In the first photo some of the diggers gather around CDAO member Dave Randleman for instructions on how to dig gaper clams. In the second photo Dave reaches down into the hole to retrieve a small gaper clam.

In the third photo Dave displays his prize a small gaper clam. In the forth photo the diggers disperse across the tidal flats to dig for gaper clams. In the fifth photo Dave displays his limit of bay clams all nineteen of them plus 1 white macoma sand clam.

In the photo below clam diggers disperse across the tidal flats to dig for bay clams in Clam Clinic Netarts Bay 2007

Clam digging in Netarts Bay is renowned for productivity and rates just behind Coos Bay in popularity. The popular bay produces all species of bay clams. Butter clams, cockles and gaper clams are the dominate clam species.

The population of clams in the bay remains consistent because the salinity of the water remains constant because unlike Oregon's other bays Netarts Bay has no large rivers flowing into it. The consistent salinity is responsible for the high quality of the oysters grown there. The area of the bay posted as a shellfish reserve is closed to clam digging.

We ask diggers to respect the oyster leases by not digging there. Razor clams are dug on the tidal flat exposed at the entrance of Netarts Bay during low tide. For detailed information on digging clams in Netarts Bay purchase the new 82 page edition of Oregon's Clams for $14.50.

Netarts Bay is one of two Oregon's Bays that have a small but verified population of geoduck clams. This was the second geoduck clam digger im has dug from Netarts Bay, and clam digger Jim knew what he was looking at when he saw the neck of the geoduck sticking up from the sand.

A little experience was all that is necessary to dig limits of either butter clams or steamer clams, or a combination of both as I chose to do in my video clip. Note the net bag I am testing for use as a clam bag. My lab, Cali Ann poses with the 12 butter clams and 8 littleneck clams I dug from the tidal flats of Netarts Bay. Cali is the best clam digging companion.

Clam Diggers Association members, Walt, Jerry and John and I met at Netarts Bay to dig clams and do some crabbing. Butter clams were my objective but it was difficult to ignore the large gaper clams and my favorite clam, littleneck clams. The shell fo the littleneck clam with the hole in it as shown in the photo below was the victim of a Moon snail. Crabbing productivity plunged with the strong currents of the low Spring tides. We caught lots of short males and very large female crabs. I spoke to one crabber who left his pots all night and failed to take a legal crab. Association member Jerry's scored theses big boys in Netarts.

Clam digger Fish-On Fred shares his clam digging adventure at Netarts Bay with us. By sharing you success with us you are inspiring other digger to share theirs. Thanks, Bill  

"Hi ya diggers.....Went to Netarts on 8-11-10, and walked in to dig. Usually bring my boat but not this time. Went out to where I usually go and got 11 Gapers and 1 Geoduck. Headed back and finished my limit with Cockles. A very good morning and hardly anyone was digging' that day. It must be better when you dig during the week rather than the weekend. I love Netarts Bay. But do not tell anyone that it is so good, we will have all the yahoos over. Later, Fish-On Fred"

Recreational Advisories: 

Always call the shellfish Hotline at (503) 986-4728 or 1-800-448-2474 toll free outside of Oregon before harvesting clams or mussels for messages listing the areas closed to harvesting shellfish due to high levels of marine toxins. The information displayed on the ODA Shellfish Hotline Website may not be up to date and cannot be trusted. For up to date information call the Shellfish Hotline before you dig at (503) 986-4728 or 1-800-448-2474.

The Oregon Public Health Division conducts several activities to protect people living, working and playing near Oregon's beaches, rivers, lakes and other waterbodies.

Oregon's Beach Monitoring Program helps protect people who play in the coastal waters. The program does regular water testing to look for high levels of bacteria and lets visitors know when there is a health concern.

The Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance program advises the public when a harmful algae bloom has been detected in a lake or river. Not all blooms are harmful, but some species of algae, such as cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, can produce toxins that can cause serious illness in pets, livestock, wildlife and humans

Please see the Oregon fish consumption guidelines for more information abut the health benefits of fish and how to make healthy fish choices. 

Click on 2012 to view the NOAA tidal projections for your area of interest.

Future tidal projections for Netarts Bay 2012 -2013.  

Click HERE for the 10 day weather forecast Netarts.

Cape Lookout State Park is another gem on the Three Capes Scenic Loop and is located in one of the most beautiful coastal settings in Oregon.  For State Park Reservations click on Cape Lookout State Park a full service park located on the south end of Netarts Bay off of the Cape Lookout Road.  The Netarts Bay sand spit is accessed through Cape Lookout State Park.  Razor clams are dug on the ocean side to the tip of the spit.  Fishing for redtail surfperch is excellent on the ocean side of the spit.  Access to the spit is through the State Park or by boat across Netarts Bay

Cape Lookout is located between the Sand Lake Recreational Area and Netarts Bay off of the Cape Lookout Road.  The cape is renowned for the panoramic view at the end of a 2.5 mile trail.  Anderson view point is a favorite launch area of Oregon 's hang gliders.      

Sand Lake Beach is located north of the entrance to Sand Lake and below Cape Lookout.  The fishing for surfperch is outstanding at the entrance to the tidal basin.  Turn west from Sand Lake Drive onto Galloway Road.  Follow the road 2.4 miles to the Sand Lake Recreational Area and the north Shore of Sand Lake.  The recreational area is renowned for ATV use.  The recreational area is a full use park with ample parking for all vehicles.

Share your crabbing, clam digging and fishing adventures with us by emailing them to

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