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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 29, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Another round of coastal razor clam digs set for April

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Razor clam diggers might get more time to break out the clam guns and shovels next month.

The next round of coastal razor clam digs have been tentatively set for April 7-9 and April 19-22 at Long Beach and Twin Harbors until noon each day, plus April 23 until 1 p.m. Two other beaches – Copalis and Mocrocks – will be open for digging April 21-22 until noon, and April 23 until 1 p.m.

Final word on those digs – all scheduled on morning low tides – will be announced about a week ahead of time, once the results of the marine toxin tests are available.

“The weather was pretty rough during the March opener, so diggers didn’t get as many clams as we thought they would,” Dan Ayres, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager said in a news release. “That gives us an opportunity to schedule a second dig in April.”

Fishery managers agreed to an extra hour of digging Saturday, April 23, because low tide won’t occur until 11:27 a.m.

“We didn’t want to be in the position of shooing diggers off the beach just a half-hour after low tide,” he said. “This schedule makes more sense for everyone.”

Low tides: April 7, 0.1 feet at 9:37 a.m.; April 8, 0.2 at 10:19 a.m.; April 9, 0.4 at 11:07 a.m.; April 19, -1.8 at 8:07 a.m.; April 20, -1.7 at 8:54 a.m.; April 21, -1.4 at 9:42 a.m.; April 22, -0.8 at 10:33 a.m.; and April 23, -0.2 at 11:27 a.m.

Kalaloch Beach is closed to razor-clam digging until further notice for an assessment of the clam population on the beach.

Ayres reminds diggers age 15 or older that they must purchase a 2011-12 license to participate in the April openings, since 2010-11 state fishing licenses expire March 31.

“We plan to announce additional digging opportunities in May, so diggers may want to take that into account,” he said.

Under state rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.

The coastal razor clam on March 19-22 was bad one day and then good the next as the ocean played tricks on those who ventured out to beaches.

“We had a lot of people out on the beaches for sure, and the big draw was the Razor Clam Festival (at Ocean Shores on March 19) so that drew a lot more folks out,” said Ayres.

“On Saturday (March 19) the weather wasn’t the greatest, and the ocean (swells) made it tough on diggers,” Ayres said. “We had 15,000 diggers out on beaches (March 19) and that was almost the largest. It came up just shy of the New Year’s Eve turnout.”

Ayres says the experienced diggers did better, and most that were at Ocean Shores were brand new to the sport of digging razor clams.

Funny what a difference 12 hours can make on the success because by Sunday, March 20 the surf settled down a whole lot and the crowd was about a third less than the day before.

“We had about 10,000 diggers coast wide on (March 20), and it was 14.7 clams per person,” Ayres said. “I was at Mocrocks and never heard from anyone who didn’t have a daily limit.”

Then by March 21, “people were getting rolled in the surf, and we had one woman who was taken to the hospital,” Ayres said. “By (March 22), the success went back up again.”

(Photo taken by Mark Harrison, Seattle Times staff photographer)

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