More coastal razor clam digs are on the horizon, and they excellent digging so far this winter should carry on although the clams are smaller in size.
“I was out with my family (on Dec. 31) and it was cold but digging was better even though the tide was a little less to work with,” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish biologist. “Digging was best on (Dec. 31 and Jan. 2), and (Jan. 1) the surf came up a little and the success dropped off.”
While temperatures dipped below freezing that didn’t stop diggers from heading out to the coast where traffic in Aberdeen the last major town leading out to the ocean beaches was jammed with cars.
“It was backed up all the way out of Aberdeen, and when I saw that traffic I said oh, oh,” Ayres said. “It was very cold during the past digs (Dec. 31-Jan. 2), but we had a lot of people and it was our biggest turnout for New Year’s Eve with 18,300 digger trips (previous high was 10,600).”
Ayres says some diggers did well and got limits fairly easily while a fair number of people struggled to get their clams especially at Twin Harbors and Kalaloch.
The three-day dig generated 35,000 digger trips for an overall average of 12.4 clams per person (the first 15 dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit). Diggers at Kalaloch averaged seven clams per digger on Dec. 31, but then it dropped off to 1.4 by Jan. 1, which was more affected by the higher surf.
The clams were on the small side, Ayres also pointed out, which has been the norm since the digs began in late October.
The good news is that the ocean is full of feed for the clams to feed on and hopefully by spring they will get larger in size.
The next tentative digs are scheduled for Jan. 20-22 at Twin Harbors and Long Beach; Jan. 21-22 at Kalaloch; Feb. 17 at Twin Harbors; Feb. 18-19 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. Digging is allowed from noon to midnight each day.
More digs are also planned this spring, but dates and places are contingent on how many clams are left to harvest.
“We have some morning digging dates in mind for March and April, but we’ll need to take a quick look after the February digs to see what is left to harvest,” Ayres said. “I know the Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival is March 19, and we should be able to have some digging opportunities then and beyond that.”
Low tides: Jan. 20, minus-1.3 feet at 6:59 p.m.; Jan. 21, -1.1 at 7:38 p.m.; Jan. 22, -0.6 at 8:19 p.m.; Feb. 17, -0.9 at 5:53 p.m.; Feb. 18, -0.9 at 6:33 p.m.; and Feb. 19, -0.5 at 7:13 p.m.
The first 15 dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.
All diggers must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license to dig razor clams on any beach. A license is required for anyone age 15 or older.
(Photos taken by Mike Siegel and Alan Berner, The Seattle Times staff photographers)