Pismo Beach has been an outdoorsman’s paradise for many, many years. While some activities have changed, several have remained. Let’s take a look at Pismo Beach 45 years ago as featured in the March 1970 edition of Field & Stream. Author Bob Grant wrote “Ocean Paradise” as a tribute to Pismo and all that it offers the outdoor enthusiast. Let’s take a look!
Clamming as it Once Was
As expected, the highlight during this time was the Pismo Clam. While this popular clam was found from Monterey Bay to the southern tip of Baja California, Pismo was known to have probably the greatest concentration Here are a few Pismo Clam fun facts gathered from Grant’s article:
- A single clam “drinks” 5,800 gallons of sea water a year.
- A single clam can spawn 15 million eggs annually.
- The clam has many predators besides humans, including seagulls, sharks, rays and surf fish.
- In the late 1890s and early 1900s, farmers would use their best plow horses to plow up the beach sand during a low tide. Men would follow the plow with pitchforks to load up the exposed clams into a wooden wagon. These clams were turned into feed for pigs and chickens. 1911 brought a halt to this practice with a 200 clam per day limit.
- 1916 to 1947 were the years of commercial digging with 1918 being a peak year, when approximately 350,000 clams weighing well over a half-million pounds were harvested for commercial use.
- By 1970, laws required a harvested clam to be 4 ½ inches in diameter and a personal limit was set of ten clams per person.
Camping at the Beach
Aside from clamming, camping in Pismo was a favorite activity, as it is today among both locals and tourists. It appears that in 1970 the state park and other facilities, as well as private ranches in the area allowed camping on the beach for approximately $1 per day. These campsites made great home bases for people participating in clamming, surf fishing and skindiving –activities that attracted thousands of visitors a year from all over the country.