Hi everyone. Thanks for your responses. Seems like I am taking up more than my fare share of space lately, so I will try to answer three of you here, in this one post.
First Debi, they look somewhat Red, because this specie is the famous Pacific Northwest 'Red' Mussel. OK, just kiddin'.
They are actually called Blue Mussels. (Name comes from the color of their shells) When raw, their body colors do range from yellow, to peach to a dark orange. Have heard that the yellow/pink/peach ones are females, and the darker orange are males. But don't know for sure. The local fish market import and sell an Australian Mussel. Half of them are yellow/peach in color and the other half are dark ornge. The owner of one market has told me the same story so it may be true. Mine all look about the same color for a couple of reasons. First, I sprinkled a little paprika on them, just trying to give them some color. Then too, the cooking and smoking process seems to always darkened them a little. Sorry for the bad joke. I know you will get even with me.
Next, Big Arm, The needle valve certainly does help a lot. I have actually gotten the gosm down to 150F, but it scares me. At that temp, the flame is so weak and puny, it looks like it could blow out at the slightest puff of breeze. My imagination tells me what could happen if it did blow out and I walked away and the tank kept pumping out propane. So I don't turn it down any farther than looks like a dependable flame. It may go lower but I just don't chance it.
And finally, SFL, we have the question of clams. There are two different situations here. One is smoking clams until they are cooked and ready to eat. The other is not cooking, but simply applying a smoky flavor to them. Some people may be successful actually smoking clams until ready to eat. I have not. So, all I can do is tell you my experience and let you judge for yourself. I have found that each type of shellfish is a little different in their response to heat. For example you can boil a crab for 15-20 minutes and have it come out nice and tender. You can do the same with mussels and they stay tender. But clams and even oysters and many mollusks seem to be different that way. If you boil clams or oysters, to get their shells open, you usually end up with tough clams or oysters. You might get away with steaming them slightly. Sometimes that opens their shells without partially cooking them. (I frequently do this to oysters on the BBQ and it works fine) But usually, by the time you apply enough boiling water, or enough steam, to open them up, you have partially cooked them and they turn tough. Clams, and in most cases oysters, need to be shucked raw, in order to make sure they will cook up tender. So, bottom line is that I always shuck clams raw. I clean them and then coat them in a light spray of olive oil. If I am going to pan fry them, I dust them in flour and sautee them in butter, garlic, salt and pepper. If I am going to smoke them I 'cold smoke' them, just to impart the smoke flavor and then proceed to cook them however I intended. If I can't cold smoke, I will, as a last resort, hot smoke at the lowest temprature I can, for the shortest time I can, and still achieve some smoky flavor. Then I proceed to actually cook them in the standard manner. Whenever I smoked them too long, too hot or until they were completely 'cooked', they were shoe leather tough. It just did not work for me.
Sorry to be so long winded.