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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 1, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Low tides this week will provide more bang for your shellfish gathering buck

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Extreme low tides coming up the during the Fourth of July week around Puget Sound and Hood Canal will provide excellent opportunities for shellfish gatherers.

Here is some information from the state Fish and Wildlife website to help you find the shellfish you’d like to gather up:

Hardshell clams that most shellfish lovers go after are Manila and Native littlenecks, Butter clams, Cockles and Macomas.

These clams are found on beaches of mixed sand, gravel, and mud. They are commonly harvested using shovels or rakes.

Except for the larger butter clams, rakes are usually most effective, and are less damaging to the clams and the beach.

Geoducks are also highly sought after although they’re the hardest and largest of clams to dig up averaging 2-plus pounds.

The best places to watch experienced geoduck diggers capturing these big clams are Duckabush and Dosewallips State Park in Hood Canal.

Pacific oysters grow to 12 inches and are found on firm or rocky beaches intertidally to 20 feet.

Their shells are fluted, irregular, chalky-white or gray, new growth often colored purple, and can be distorted to conform to the shape of the object to which the oyster is attached.

Oysters are often found in groups attached to one another or to an object such as a rock or a shell. Oysters have uneven valves (shells). The lower shell is cupped and often attached to a hard object. The upper shell is flattened and smaller than the lower.

Spawning during the hot summer months temporarily reduces the quality of oysters, making them less desirable.

North Sound low tides: Sunday (July 1), minus-2.5 feet at 9:19 a.m.; Monday (July 2), -3.0 at 10:08 a.m.; Tuesday (July 3), -3.3 at 10:56 a.m.; Wednesday (July 4), -3.1 at 11:42 a.m.; Thursday (July 5), -2.6 at 12:28 p.m.; Friday (July 6), -1.7 at 1:12 p.m.; and Saturday (July 7), -0.5 at 1:56 p.m.

Another series of minus-low tides will occur during the weeks of July 16-21; and July 29-Aug. 3.

Check the state Fish and Wildlife regulation pamphlet or visit the state Department of Health website for information on beach closures and red tide notices or call 360-236-3330 and the shellfish safety hotline at 800-562-5632.

Before heading out to beaches also call the fisheries emergency shellfish rule change hotline at 866-880-5431.

For more information on what beaches are open and closed go to the state Fish and Wildlife’s beach information website.

For more information on how to harvest geoducks go to the state Fish and Wildlife website.

(Photo by Mark Yuasa, Seattle Times staff reporter)

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