Clam diggers have been graced with a very good razor clam season, and there are still good numbers of tentative dates coming up, including the popular spring tides that clammers like so well.
The tides, good weather, and soft surf on the weekend digs have combined with a very healthy population of good size clams, to produce one of the best years for clammers in a long time.
The next round of razor clam digs has been approved, and is slated to start on Monday, Feb. 14.
Last season was shut down early, in October of 2020, due to unsafe levels of domoic acid in the clams. Domoic acid causes Amnesiac Shellfish Poisoning, which can cause serious illness and death.
The clams were so plentiful that last fall the daily limit for razor clams was raised to 20 clams. The limit has been dropped to 15 again, but not until the beachgoing public had a great time during the early evening and night time digs.
The reason for dropping the 20-clam limit was because the WDFW wanted to make sure the great clamming continued, according to Bryce Blumenthal, a scientific technician with the department.
“We did that to allow for opportunity for the rest of the season,” Blumenthal said. “We decided it might be good idea to bring the limit back down to 15 to make sure we had plenty of clams left for spring tides.”
The spring tides are daytime tides, instead of the evening and night time tides of the fall and winter. They are especially popular, and many families make it a tradition to make a day of it at the coast.
Clamming in the dark requires a powerful light source so you can see the “shows,” which are the small dimples that give away a clam’s location. It’s also easier to keep an eye on the ocean surf in daylight, so it can be a little safer. For that reason, the daylight digs appeal to families with young children.
The next round of digs has been approved, after marine toxin tests showed the clams were safe to eat. The dates, times, and beaches open are listed below. These are still night time tides. The daylight digs will begin in April.
Feb. 14, Monday, 5:35 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Long Beach
Feb. 15, Tuesday, 6:09 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Mocrocks
Feb. 16, Wednesday, 6:42 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Copalis
Feb. 17, Thursday, 7:14 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Feb. 18, Friday, 7:45 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
It is important to note that while Long Beach is open every day, some other beaches are not. Always check the regulations before clamming, and know which beaches are open.
Razor clams are dug with two different techniques. Some clammers prefer a clamming shovel, and remove the clams by hand. Others like to use a clam gun, which sucks the clams out of the sand.
While the ocean conditions have been good, clammers need to check before clamming to make sure no issues with domoic acid have been found.
“A crew member goes out every week and samples the water,” said Blumenthal. “She looks in the water samples, and looks for the algae that produces the toxin. There have been times when there was a small uptick, but nothing like the spike we saw in the fall of 2020.”
“Keep your fingers crossed that we won’t have any issues, but you never know what is going to happen,” he added.
Most clammers are just happy to be out there, after such a long closure. So far, Blumenthal said most diggers have been very happy with the size and numbers of clams out on the beaches. Razors are one of the best tasting clams in the Northwest.
He also noted that there have been no safety issues with diggers this year. In some years clammers have been swept off beaches, or have had issues with high surf. The weather has been very good for most of the days, but beach-goers need to keep an eye on the weather and surf, and be aware of the conditions they will find.
It is a very good idea to clam with family or friends, for safety reasons, especially at night.
“We haven’t heard any reports of any (safety) incidents so far,” said Blumenthal. “We have had some rough days, but people have not been going out on those days.”
He warns clammers that there can be days with good weather, but rough surf, and folks should avoid going out on the beach during those days.
For clammers heading to Long Beach, Blumenthal suggest driving up to the northern end of the beach. That is where the best numbers of clams can be found.
By state law, a daily limit consists of the first 15 clams dug regardless of their size or condition, and each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container. All diggers age 15 and older must have an applicable fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach.
For more information on tentative future digs, check the WDFW razor clam webpage at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/razor-clams.
For a surf forecast for the Columbia River entrance, go to: https://swell.willyweather.com/wa/pacific-county/columbia-river-entrance-north-jetty.html
Terry Otto offers a southwest Washington fishing report and forecast as part of “The Guides Forecast” at www.theguidesforecast.com