VIDEO — ‘One Expensive Trip to Pismo’: California Woman Fined $88K After Children Pick Up Clams

A woman from Fresno, California, got a huge shock after taking her children on a family trip to Pismo Beach.

At the close of 2023, Charlotte Russ visited the area with her children who wanted to collect seashells at the beach, ABC 30 reported on Thursday.

But what the family did not realize at the time was they had actually picked up 72 clams. Clamming is regulated, so Russ was given a ticket and later got a notice that said she was being fined a whopping $88,000.

An image shows the woman with her family:

“It made me really sad and depressed, and it kind of ruined our trip,” Russ explained.

Meanwhile, Lt. Matthew Gil with the Department of Fish and Wildlife explained that the rules are in place so the clams can grow to four and a half inches. After that they spawn and have offspring each year.

A photo shows the clams the family gathered:

According to the Pismo Beach website, the beach began calling itself the “Clam Capital of the World” in 1947.

The site continued:

The Pismo Clam and the Pacific Razor Clam made up most of the catch by clammers. A large influx of clammers and sea otters may have led to the depletion of the Pismo Clam population, which is now gradually rising. Pismo clam populations can fluctuate dramatically due to a variety of natural influences.

Before you clam, you must obtain a saltwater fishing license. As of 2023, the annual fee (365-day license) for a California Department of Fish and Wildlife saltwater license for California residents 16+ is $58.58 ($158.25 for non-residents). A 1-day license is $19.18, and a 2-day license is $29.42. Clamming is permitted year-round. You will also need a clam fork and a measuring device called a “caliper.”

Russ’s family has learned a lot from the incident and wants others to hear their story so they will not unknowingly get into trouble.

Russ’s fine was later reduced to $500 after she explained what happened to a San Luis Obispo County judge.

She said, “It was definitely one expensive trip to Pismo, unforgettable.”


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