The Pismo clam supports an important sport shellfishery. An estimated
150,000 people once sought the clams on Pismo Beach, California, during a
single weekend; however, sea otters have depleted the supply there since
1981, and as of 1986 there is no fishery.
The Pismo clam lives in the sandy beaches along the Central and Southern
California coast -- a habitat that is highly vulnerable to degradation from
dredging and oil pollution (oil spills). Substantial losses of clam
populations resulting from man's manipulation of the coastal zone could be
expected to cause an economic loss to the sport fishery.
In many areas, recruitment of Pismo clams has been very low and the
population has declined almost steadily over years. Exact causes for lack
of recruitment are not fully known. Further losses of parent stocks from
degradation and/or overfishing could be expected to further reduce this
important recreational shellfishery.
Red tide caused by
a dinoflagellate bloom, as well as extremely cold weather, can kill young
clams. Mortality rates for Pismo clams at Pismo Beach, indicate that of
1,000 clams 0.5 year old, only 5 were still alive at age 7.5.
As tasty and meaty as they are, they can be a bear to get open! They have the thickest shell of all the popular clams. And they close up tight!
Working over a pan to collect the clam's juices, use a thin sharp knife to insert at the hinge. Sweep the knife in a full arch to cut both abductor muscles that hold the shells closed. With the muscles cut, the clam will open enough to pry open the remainder of the way. Remember to save the juices!
Nearly all the meat is usable. Discard the darkest portions. Scrap the abductor muscles from the shell. Drain the juices to save for later and then rinse the meat of sand thoroughly. Filter the juices with cheese cloth and save.
Pismo clams make excellent clam chowder. Pick your favorite recipe making sure to use the juices for full flavor.
Make sure that if you are parking in the pay zones which includes one way side streets as well as parking lots, you look for the pay meters to get your time allowed stub. Return to your vehicle and place it on the inside dashboard area visible through the windshield or you will have a ticket fine placed on the outside of your window.
Pismo Beach’s property crime levels are a little higher than average for California, but the violent crime level in Pismo Beach tends to be lower. So, although this is a nice, friendly California town, thefts do occur. It is recommended that you do not leave valuables in your car out in plain view, and that you always lock your car.