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Can you dig it? Clamming season underway in Alaska

Francis Lincoln, Tiffany Okitkun and Aaron Moses search for razor clams at Clam Gulch on the Kenai Peninsula. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Ryan Curtis, from Toksook Bay, digs for razor clams at Clam Gulch. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Ryan Curtis holds a razor clam at Clam Gulch. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Three friends from Toksook Bay came to Clam Gulch to dig for razor clams, each using different tools. From left, Aaron Moses with a clam gun, Ryan Curtis with a shovel, and Francis Lincoln trying his luck by hand. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
First-time clam digger Francis Lincoln tries the hardest way, by hand. He caught a few razor clams, but not nearly as many as his friends, who had a shovel and clam gun. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Ryan Curtis with his haul of razor clams from Clam Gulch. He gathered a dozen over the course of an hour or two. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Ryan Curtis, left, and Francis Lincoln dig for clams at Clam Gulch. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Tiffany Okitkun takes a photo of a hermit crab during a break from clamming with her friends at Clam Gulch. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Razor clams from Clam Gulch, dug by Aaron Moses and Tiffany Okitkun. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A hermit crab peeks out from its shell on the beach near Clam Gulch. May 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Sean Doogan

Early season clammers are already testing the waters of Cook Inlet, anticipating great tides for clamming over Memorial Day weekend. Most are looking for Pacific razor clams, although butter and littleneck clams are also available on some area beaches.

Alaska is a good place to find the tasty mollusk. It’s home to half the eight major populations of Pacific razor clam. They are found on the east and west sides of Cook Inlet, the Cordova area, and the Alaska Peninsula. The most accessible Southcentral clams can be found on sandy beaches along a 50-mile swath on the east side of Cook Inlet, bordered by the Kasilof River, to the north, and the Anchor River to the south, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Northern Kenai beaches tend to be the most popular. Clam Gulch sees the most digging, with Deep Creek and Kasilof among the most popular in the southern area.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates diggers took home about 1 million razor clams last year.

Memorial Day weekend is expected to be crowded this year on Southcentral clam beaches, with good minus tides from May 25-28.

If you go, here's a few things you need to know: anyone older than 16 must have a valid 2013 Alaska sport fishing license. In Cook Inlet, clammers can keep 60 clams per person, regardless of size. You are required to keep all the clams you dig, regardless of size.

Tide books can be found at any sporting goods store and most grocery chains. They show when tides will be lower than average. The so-called "minus tides" are the only time the water is low enough to expose the sand where the clams live.