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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 1, 2009 at 9:40 AM

Upcoming low tides to expose beaches for shellfish gatherers and explorers

Another series of low tides coming up over the long holiday weekend and into next week will allow shellfish gatherers a chance at clams and oysters.

I had a recent conversation with Camille Speck, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Brinnon, and here are some places worth trekking to:

Belfair State Park is often overlooked, and open for clams and oysters, but be cautious of the muddy beach.

Dosewallips and Duckabush state parks offer clams and oysters, but it takes a little walk to get out onto the beaches. Once there you will be rewarded with plenty of steamer-sized clams.

Fort Flagler State Park is open through this month, and is best for larger native littleneck and butter clams.

Illahee State Park north of Bremerton has a great planted oyster bed and is open through this month.

Potlatch State Park on Hood Canal is a great place for steamer clams and an easy walk onto the beach flats.

North Bay in Case Inlet across from Allyn is an easy, short walk, and is abundant with steamer clams and some oysters on a planted bed. Clams here can be found high on the beach line so you don’t have to go very far out to find them.

A good interactive map can be found on the state Fish and Wildlife Web site.

“Whenever possible we try to point people to this interactive beach map section of the Web site because they often learn of new beaches in their area,” Speck said. “And it provides the most up-to-date season information on a beach-specific basis, as well as handy links to the DOH pages for those beaches (to check for current harvesting conditions).”

Speck pointed out that it is a very user-friendly map. If you click inside one of the boxes in the Puget Sound map it will take you to a finer scale map that displays public tidelands with a yellow squiggle. Roll over the squiggle and the beach name will pop up. Click the squiggle and it takes you to a narrative about that site that includes driving directions, GPS coordinates (great for boat access beaches), species descriptions, facility description, seasons, and links to the ever-handy DOH page, as well as aerial photos (DOE pages) and a Washington tide predicting tool.

“Most people are delighted when they find this tool,” Speck said.

All eastern mainland beaches from Everett south into southern Puget Sound are closed for shellfish due to unsafe pollution levels. Before going to a beach, call the Department of Health shellfish safety hotline at 800-562-5632 for details.

Low tides: July 2, minus-0.4 feet at 8:19 a.m.; July 3, -0.9 at 9:03 a.m.;July 4, -1.3 at 9:44 a.m.; July 5, -1.5 at 10:22 a.m.; July 6, -1.6 at 10:58 a.m.; July 7, -1.6 at 11:33 a.m.; July 8, -1.5 at 12:09 p.m.; July 9, 1-2. at 12:44 p.m.; and July 10, -0.7 at 1:19 p.m.

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