Your Town Your Life: Quahogging in Galilee

By Alana Cerrone

It’s a Rhode Island state icon…the quahog. Once used by the Narragansett Indians as money, it’s now a staple in the Rhode Island fishing industry. But the people in Galilee showed me a different side of quahogging.

On the southern tip of Narragansett you’ll find Galilee, the state’s largest fishing port. It’s home to shops, restaurants, and of course the Block Island Ferry. Once you enter the village, you can see – and smell – the commercial fishing boats that line the docks.

Galilee may be a hub for commercial fishing here in Rhode Island, but it’s also a haven for recreational quahoggers – and locals who just want to catch dinner.

Local commercial shellfisherman Jody King says, “It’s an excellent place for people to start off digging. It’s one of those places every Rhode Islander knows.”

Locals and out-of-towners come to try their hand at digging up quahogs…or should I say try their toes…

“Most people go out and stand in the water and wiggle their feet until they feel one.”

Here in Galilee some quahoggers go out just to catch dinner, like resident Brad Dean.

“Usually that afternoon we’re eating quahogs….everybody loves clams casino.”

But, it’s also a family tradition.

“I’ve been clamming here in Galilee with my father and grandfather since the late 50’s and I’ve been doing it ever since…and now I do it with my kids and my grandkids.”

The locals might be willing to share their techniques…”Usually the rake and sometimes we do it with our feet…”

But don’t expect them to share their ‘secret spots’. “There are a couple spots that I can’t divulge. “

If you’re a Rhode Island resident you don’t need a license to dig – but if you catch any quahog smaller than 1 inch, throw it back.

“As long as it stays within that gauge, you can take it home for dinner.”

And don’t worry about the supply ‘drying up’ …Narragansett Bay is home to an estimated 400 million quahogs total. Click here for more digging rules and regulations from DEM.

© WLNE-TV 2015