Loving the shores of our beloved Lowcountry means getting outside and getting a little pluff mud between your toes. It’s part of what defines us. It’s gooey, smelly and pulls the topsiders right off your feet.
When I first spotted Craig Reaves, owner of Sea Eagle Market in Beaufort, South Carolina, he was crawling on hands and knees through the mud banks of the Broad River heading back to his boat.
I watched as two of his men literally leap frogged baskets of clams through the boggy marsh. Craig’s dug clams in these estuaries, boggy tubes and rivers for as far back as he can remember. And where did he start? As Craig says, “I didn’t pick fishing. I was born into it.” His father Laten began shrimping off of the North Carolina coast during the heyday of the industry, in the early 1960’s.
“I clammed all the time with my grandmother as a boy. She dug down in the mud, put the clams in her bathing suit and kept on searching for more,” says Craig. “Clams bury down in the mud. If they’re not up close to the top, you’re probably not going to find them. Even clams just under the surface of a mud flat can be tough to spot because they’re always up on their edge with just one edge of the shell showing,” he said.