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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 28, 2011 at 8:08 AM

Coastal razor clam facts and figures, a look back at 2010-11 season and a peak ahead

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I love viewing facts and figures of any kind related to fishing, shellfish gathering, and many more outdoor activities, and thought these coastal razor clam items would be of interest. This is a second installment with the first one posted on my blog on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

LONG BEACH

The average size of the Long Beach recruit clams found in state Fish and Wildlife’s summer surveys was 4.1 inches, and is a little larger than 2010 of 3.9 inches, and a little smaller than the 2009 average of 4.2 inches.

As is typically the case at Long Beach, the better digging is on the north end of the beach. However, the sections of the beach around Ocean Park have a larger portion of the recruit size clams than during most years.

TWIN HARBORS

The number of recruits clams is down over last year and over the five-year average. In addition the average density of razor clams on Twin Harbors is estimated from the 2011 assessment work to be 1.13 clams per square meter with the 15-year average density at 1.42 clams per square meter. However, state Fish and Wildlife shellfish managers are pleased to see the number of pre-recruits has increased.

The average size of the Twin Harbors recruit clams found in the summery surveys was 3.7 inches is a little smaller than 2010 of 3.9 inches. The 2009 average recruit size was 4.2 inches. The 2011 pre-recruit clams are in general larger and have much better chance of survival to recruit size in the months ahead.

The 2011 assessment found good densities of clams at the south end and just north of the Grayland Beach approach.

COPALIS

Copalis razor clam populations are down over the five year period displayed in this table. While the current level is not unprecedented, as it is very similar to levels seen in 1997, 2003 and 2006, we are watching the situation closely. In addition the average density of razor clams on Copalis is estimated from the 2011 assessment work to be 0.73 clams per square meter with the 15-year average density at 1.36 clams per square meter. State Fish and Wildlife is pleased to see a large number of pre-recruit clams and will looking to see if they survive and will help reverse this downward trend. Nevertheless, diggers who prefer Copalis will certainly see fewer digging days during the 2011-12 season.

In situations like this -at times state Fish and Wildlife may open other beaches and leave Copalis closed. This has always been difficult because of the popularity of this beach that includes areas like Ocean Shores and Ocean City. Please make yourself familiar with which areas are open before heading to the beach and pay attention to signs posted at beach approaches. This will help you avoid receiving a citation from a Fish and Wildlife Enforcement officer for digging on a closed beach.

The average size of the Copalis recruit clams found in our summer surveys was 4.04 inches which is slightly smaller than the 2010 average of 4.1 inches.

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The southern boundary for our stock assessment at Copalis is 0.2 miles south of the Tarus Beach Approach. Beyond that razor clam populations are sparse.

Except for the traditionally lower densities of razor clams on the southern extreme of razor clam population on Copalis – the clams are fairly evenly distributed.

MOCROCKS

Mocrocks is the one bright spot in Washington’s razor clam populations. Past successful spawning has lead to an increased level of recruit sized clams on this beach and the current population is just above the 5-year average for both recruits and pre-recruits. In addition the average density of razor clams on Mocrocks is estimated from the 2011 assessment work to be 1.85 clams per square meter with the 15-year average density at 1.86 clams per square meter.

There likely will be periods during the coming season when Mocrocks is open when other beaches are not. It will be important for diggers to know which beach they are planning to harvest on and to pay attention to signs posted on beach approaches that would indicate a specific beach is closed to harvest.

A recruitment of small clams is very evident – in addition there are a good number of clams in the 4.5 inch (~112 mm) range. State Fish and Wildlife will be watching for problems with wastage on this beach with many very small clams mixed in with a good supply of much larger clams and want to remind diggers that they are required to keep the first 15 clams.

Razor clam densities this year at Mocrocks are especially strong north and south of the Copalis Rocks and north of the Roosevelt Beach approach, however diggers will find good number of recruit sized clams most everywhere.

Like Copalis, razor clam densities this year at Mocrocks are again fairly consistent along the entire beach – with the higher densities south of the Copalis Rocks and South of Joe Creek (south of Pacific Beach).

KALALOCH

A continued decline in recruit razor clam populations at Kalaloch is evident in this table. This population level is not unprecedented. In the last 15 years populations on this beach have been lower in 5 separate years. In addition the average density of razor clams on Kalaloch is estimated from the 2011 assessment work to be 0.84 clams per square meter with the 15-year average density at 1.54 clams per square meter.

Recall that the Olympic National Park works closely with WDFW staff in the management of the recreational fishery on the Kalaloch beach. WDFW takes the lead in the population assessment work – with ONP assistance. ONP has the lead in harvest monitoring and enforcing the recreational fishery. Both groups work together to set specific dates when harvest will occur on this beach.

There is a mix of clams present at Kalaloch with a large number of very small recruit clams that are less than 1 inch and another group between 3 and 4 inches. The average size of 3.7 inches compares to the 2010 average of 4.0 inches.

Since the 2010 assessment there has been an increase in the number of pre-recruit clams in front of the Campground and on the beach north of the Campground. The southern portions of the beach now have recruit clams when few if any were present in 2010.

(Photos taken by Mark Yuasa)

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