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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

September 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Another banner coastal razor clam season expected as fisheries release stock assessments

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Back in late August I wrote about the upcoming coastal razor clam outlook, which should be excellent again this coming fall, winter and spring.

State Fish and Wildlife on Monday released this season’s stock assessment is now updated for folks to look at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/seasons_set.html.

“Razor clam populations look very good on most beaches,” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager. “We’ll see more digging days than last year, and it’ll be a stupendous season.

“At Mocrocks, the clam population is the highest we’ve ever measured dating back 20 years,” Ayres said of the area just north of Ocean Shores. “Populations are also up at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Long Beach. Short of any marine toxin issues, this is pretty exciting news.”

Diggers can expect a lot more digging opportunities at Long Beach and Twin Harbors, and north of Grays Harbor also will get additional days to harvest clams.

A total of 420,000 digger trips were made in 2012-13 with 6.1 million clams dug for an average of 14.5 clams per person (the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit).

“It was a darn good season, and the highest number of razor clams we’ve harvested in a given season in a long time,” Ayres said.

For comparison, in 2011-12 a total of 194,976 digger trips produced 2.5 million clams for 13.2 per digger average; and in 2010-11, a total of 244,500 produced 3.2 million for 13.1.

Unlike last year, when clams were abundant but small in size, surveys taken this summer paint a much different picture.

“Overall, the size of clams will be larger than last year by a half an inch or so,” Ayres said. “We’ll see some nice clams coming off the beaches right from the get-go, and they will only grow as we head into springtime.”

The only downside was Kalaloch off the northern coast, which has been in a funk for quite some time although recent clam surveys showed a slight increase.

“Kalaloch has been a disappointment, and the last time it was open (in 2011-12) we only offered three days of digging in the spring,” Ayres said. “We haven’t seen a good dig there in a long time, and it goes back a decade (to the 2003-04 season).”

Razor clam diggers will receive some good news at a pre-season public meeting scheduled by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in Long Beach this month.

State shellfish managers will present an update on coastal razor clam stocks and discuss options at a public meeting 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at the City of Long Beach Depot, 102 Third Street Northwest.

Written comments will be accepted through Sept. 30 by emailing razorclams@dfw.wa.gov.

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