Huck, my wife is from Tangier Island, VA. As you probably know, it's in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. She comes from a long line of watermen. Her brothers use crab pots and dredge for oysters on a commercial basis, so probably can't answer your specific questions. I have accompanied her brothers crab potting many times and we always used menhaden (sp?) for bait, but any cheap fish would work. The commercial waterman can run a couple hundred crab pots. We would be on the water at 4 AM and work until late in the day. Rewards can be good or bad depending on the market, but there are always enough to feast on for the workers and their families. Blue crabs, especially from the Chesapeake Bay cannot be beat.
Before I was married, I was stationed in New Jersey, and would comb the beaches for clams. We'd find them on the beach half buried in the sand right at the shoreline. We wore a cup of sauce on a string around our neck, to dip the clams in before we ate them. Nothing as fancy as a rake, just our hands and a knife was used. I wonder if they still do that? Like you said, half the fun is being out there.
Good luck and keep us posted with your methods and results. I read your post and she's jealous! We are planning to hit VA next summer.