The south shore is a great place for clamming as the water is shallower, there are more sandbars, and the tides go out further. We dig for soft shell clams and the daily limit is 100/per person and the minimum size is 50 mm or roughly 2 inches. You can’t keep them if they are any smaller. You can use your hands to dig but a pail and shovel will be easier.
In terms of location, if you go a little west of Hampton near the Tryon River it’s supposed to be a good clamming area. I have never gone here myself, but I have been told that the shore and riverbanks along the St. Catherine’s River and the West River are good too, which is a little east of Hampton.
Oyster Bed Bridge area is a good clamming and quahoging spot and the sandbars and small rivers around the Ellerslie, Tyne Valley and Bideford areas.
You can go clam digging on any beach really, just go at low-tide, look for holes in the sandbars, and dig straight down. The test is to dig a little bit and if the hole continues, there is likely a clam below it. Work slowly so not to crack the clam shell as you dig.
Sometimes the sand that they are buried in is a bit heavier, darker and clay-like than most of the reddish sand, so keep an eye for that. Keep them in salt water in a bucket undisturbed for a short period of time…and hour or so – they will open up and release some of the sand and grit, so you don’t have it in your meal.