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Washington fall clamming seasons start Tuesday

SHELLFISHING — The first razor clam dig of the season will get under way Oct. 7 at Twin Harbors and Long Beach, with additional opportunities the following weekend at two other beaches, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

 Marine toxin tests on all four beaches confirmed the clams are safe to eat, according to an agency release.

Digging days and evening low tides for beaches scheduled to open are: 

  • Oct. 7, 2014, Tuesday; 6:26 p.m., -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors 
  • Oct. 8, 2014, Wednesday; 7:13 p.m., -0.9 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors 
  • Oct. 9, 2014, Thursday; 7:58 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors 
  • Oct. 10, 2014, Friday; 8:43 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks 
  • Oct. 11, 2014, Saturday; 9:28 pm, -0.8 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis 
  • Oct. 12, 2014, Sunday; 10:15 p.m., -0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks 

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends that diggers arrive at the beach an hour or two before low tide for best results. However, digging is not allowed on any beach before noon.

“Low tides will occur fairly late in the day, so diggers should be prepared to dig in the dark,” Ayres said. 

Ayres noted that WDFW has tentatively scheduled another set of digs beginning Oct. 22, pending the results of future toxin tests. The department also has released a list of prospective digs through Dec. 31. That list is available on WDFW’s webpage.

Clam digging tips are on the Great Getaways webpage. 

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2014-15 license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website .

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container. Diggers may not harvest any part of another person's daily limit, unless they possess a designated harvester card.

Ocean beaches loaded with clams for fall seasons

SHELLFISHING — The outlook for fall razor clam digging is more than bright enough to lure East Siders over to Washington's ocean beaches. The shellfishing forecast isn't just good; it's outstanding.

“Based on our assessments, the razor clam populations on some beaches exceed the near record levels found in 2013,” said said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We expect the 2014-15 season to be just as good – if not better than last year.”

During the 2013-14 season, there were 451,000 digger trips, resulting in a harvest of almost 6.3 million clams, reports Jeff Mayor of the Tacoma News Tribune. The average catch was 13.9 clams per digger trips, not far below the legal daily limit of 15 clams per person.

“From the start of the 2013-14 season, we knew that the number of razor clams had reached near record levels,” Ayres said. “The end result was a season that had the highest total effort and harvest for the Washington recreational razor clam fishery since 1982, 32 years ago.”

Making it more remarkable, the successful season occurred while the Kalaloch beaches were closed the entire season, Mayor writes. Biologists at Olympic National Park, which manages the Kalaloch beaches, kept them closed for the second season in a row because of low population numbers.

Razor clam seasons are tentatively set to begin the first week of October.

Beefy bivalves await razor clam diggers

SHELLFISHING — Plenty of fat clams await diggers who turn out for the next razor clam dig, set to run Wednesday, Feb. 26, through March 3 on various Washington ocean beaches.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today the dig has been approved after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

As in previous openings, all digs are scheduled on evening tides. No digging will be allowed on any beach before noon.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said razor clams sampled in recent days are noticeably heavier than those tested earlier in the season.

“With all the plankton in the water, the clams seem to be “fattening” up earlier than usual,” Ayres said. “Those clams will make for some tasty meals after the next opening.”

The upcoming dig is scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

  • Feb. 26, Wednesday, 4:15 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors
  • Feb. 27, Thursday, 5:04 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • Feb. 28, Friday, 5:49 p.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • March 1, Saturday, 6:32 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • March 2, Sunday, 7:13 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • March 3, Monday, 7:53 p.m.; +0.3 feet; Twin Harbors

Ayres noted that the beaches open for the greatest number of days are those with the most clams still available for harvest.

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2013-14 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW's website and from license vendors around the state.

Click  here for updates on upcoming digs. 

Holiday crabs: Can you dig it?

SHELLFISHING — Clam diggers can ring in the new year with an eight-day razor clam dig on ocean beaches that starts Dec. 29 and stretches through Jan. 5.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has approved the dig after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

As in previous openings, all digs are scheduled on evening tides. No digging will be allowed on any beach before noon.

"Digging razor clams on New Year's Day is a holiday tradition for a lot of Northwest families," said Dan Ayres, WDFW shellfish manager. "Fortunately, the tides allowed us to keep that tradition alive this year."

Upcoming digs are scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

  • Dec. 29, Sunday, 4:05 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • Dec. 30, Monday, 4:55 p.m.; -0.9 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • Dec. 31, Tuesday, 5:42 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis, 
  • Jan. 1, Wednesday, 6:29 p.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • Jan. 2, Thursday, 7:15 p.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • Jan. 3, Friday, 8:00 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • Jan. 4, Saturday, 8:45 p.m.; -0.9 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • Jan. 5, Sunday, 9:31 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Twin Harbors

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2013-14 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW's website and from license vendors around the state.

Additional digs are tentatively scheduled later in January and in February, but have not yet been approved. For more information, see the WDFW Razor Clam webpage.  

Shellfishers happy as a clam about season prospects

SHELLFISHING — The strongest year of razor clam digging in more than a decade is predicted this fall based on summer surveys on ocean beaches, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department reports.

Barring issues with marine toxins, clammers could enjoy some of the best harvests in 15 years.

  • During the 2012-13 season, diggers harvested 6.1 million razor clams, the highest number in 15 years. Diggers averaged 14.5 clams per day, just shy of the 15-clam legal limit.

"The test show an even higher density of razor clams on most beaches than last year, when diggers enjoyed a banner season," said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager. "That will translate into more days of digging at popular beaches such as Long Beach and Twin Harbors, so long as we don't have any marine toxin issues."

State shellfish managers will present an update on coastal razor clam stocks and discuss options for structuring this year's season at a public meeting Sept. 19 in Long Beach.

The seasons could start in October. The lowest tides are the first and third weekends of the month. A season could be set for either or both.

Razor clam seasons are also an economic boon for small coastal communities, according to a study conducted by the University of Washington. Last year's season generated approximately $37 million in economic benefits, based on the model used in the study.  

Outdoors daughter flexes mussel, eats weeds

FORAGING — Who says college grads can't make a living? 

My daughter, Hillary, is using skills she learned as a camp trip leader and kayak guide to make nutritional ends meet with a little Northwest foraging during a recent outing with her sister in the San Juan Islands. As her recent email reported:

When we went out kayaking, I harvested some mussels and we cooked them up last night in a curry! Brook had an abundance of nettles in her backyard so I picked a bag full and made nettle pesto last night! Here is a picture of my spring bounty. I froze a jar for you and mom. Even though I wore gloves, my fingers still tingled all night last night!

I told her I'm glad she knows how to cook stinging nettles: Better to have tingling fingers than a tingling colon.

She also said she's looking forward to feeding me some bull kelp chutney.

Getting down and dirty for goeducks

SHELLFISHING — Seattle Times outdoor writer Mark Yuasa dove head-first into the sport of goeduck harvesting last week.

Read for insight on the technique his friends have developed for gathering the heavyweight of Pacific Northwest clams.