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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 19, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Recap of coastal razor clam season leaves diggers happy as clams

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Before the 2011-12 razor clam digging season began, state Fish and Wildlife shellfish managers felt they’d be reluctant to get into spring due to a major fallout in bivalve populations.

“At the onset we thought we’d have less digging opportunities than in previous years because of the major decline particularly at Copalis and other beaches,” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish biologist. “Before the season began I felt if we got to April than anything beyond would be frosting on the cake.”

“Some of the challenges we faced during this season was bad weather,” Ayres said. “If we had better weather, I’m sure it would’ve been a totally different scenario. At Twin Harbors we got to May, and we provided more digging at Mocrocks.”

This past winter and spring a total of 195,000 digger trips were made with about 2.6-million harvested for an average of 13.2 clams per person (the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit).

That compares to the 2010-11 season when 244,500 digger trips were made with 3.2-million dug for a 13.1 average.

“When you look back it was the lowest number of digger trips since the 2000-2001 season (180,000 digger trips with 2.5-million clams harvested),” Ayres said. “Indeed we had less opportunity this year as predicted, but overall people were pretty satisfied with the season.”

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The harvest levels this past winter and spring at Twin Harbors was lower than it had been in the last three years. The lack of clams at Copalis definitely brought down the total number of clams harvested. Long Beach had a pretty standard season.

“On the other hand, Mocrocks had more clams dug this year than last year, and was almost 100,000 more clams dug than over the previous 10 year average so Mocrocks is in good shape,” Ayres said.

Past spawning success at Mocrocks has lead to an increased level of recruit-sized clams and the current population is just above the five-year average for both adult and juvenile clams.

“We’re looking forward to next year, and have already started our stock assessment at Long Beach where initial results showed a strong recruitment of little guys,” Ayres said. “Some of the little clams from last year have grown into adult size clams so it looks like there could be an increase there. I hope that also bodes well for the rest of the coastal beaches.”

(Photos by Mark Yuasa and Ryan Nakata)

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