Up here the limit is:
40 clams or 10# of little necks, butters, softs, macoma and cockles.
7 horse clams
and in some places we get a bonus of 24 cockles.
Papers don't have a separate limit here so they fall in the 10# 40 clam limit as far as I know.
What is the best way to tell them apart?
DOH! You're in Washington!!! *chuckle* well... forget what I said about limits, then...
Usually size is the key factor... but when dealing with small gapers, the shell shape and siphon tips are the most important keys.
Fat gapers (Tresus capax
) are round on the side of the shell opposite the hinge and have a nearly 45-degree angle at the hinge. When viewed from the siphon end (posterior), the shells are evenly proportioned. Pacific gapers (Tresus nutalli
) are similar, but have a less rounded shell margin opposite the hinge. The siphons have a leathery skin covering the entire length. The siphon tips (neck tip) of both species often have a horny or leathery flap and often have algae, barnacles, and other saltwater growth on them. The opened siphons have small tentacles surrounding their openings and a blue to red tint within. The maximum size is somewhere around 10 inches in shell length, but most individuals are between 5 and 7 inches.
Eastern softshells (Mya arenaria
) are smaller with a more oval profile. When viewed from the posterior, the shells are often unevenly shaped and one is often larger than the other. The siphons have a less leathery skin covering their length and often have a black tip. Rarely do they have any marine growths on them. The maximum size is about inches, but most individuals are between 3 and 5 inches.