Coastal razor clam digging is open daily on the southern coast at Long Beach during evening low tides only through March 10, and has been excellent when the weather cooperates.
“We had 8,000 people out on Saturday, and it was limits across the board (first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit),” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager. “Since Feb. 4, 14,500 digger trips at Long Beach have produced a 14.6 clam per person average, and it would have been 15 clams without the lousy weather on (Feb. 4) and last Friday.”
“The digs started last Thursday (Feb. 4) with some really sloppy ocean conditions and 20-foot swells, but people still did OK,” he said. “There was just a handful of people out on Friday (Feb. 5) as the weather was a lot worse.”
The Super Bowl crowd on Sunday was down with only 1,600 diggers venturing out to Long Beach, and by Monday it was 3,400 diggers that found easy limits of clams.
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“It was a blue bird night (on Tuesday) and t-shirt weather, and while I don’t have specific figures I’m sure digging was good,” Ayres said.
Some of the digs scheduled later this month at Long Beach will occur during less-than-ideal low tides, so those heading out should look at a tide chart since better digging usually happens when it is one foot or less.
“There are times when the surf is low on a two-foot low tide, and you can still get clams,” Ayres said.
Copalis Beach is also planned to be open on Feb. 19-20 during evening low tides only, and final approval should be announced by Tuesday (Feb. 16).
“We understand it will be a last minute call for Copalis, and that is due to the (Presidents’ Day holiday),” Ayres said.
Copalis Beach was the first beach to open this winter, but 40 percent of the quota has already been taken in just six days of digging. In all, 29,369 digger trips (Dec. 24-26, Jan. 8-9 and Jan. 22) have taken 398,535 razor clams for an average of 13.6.
Health test samples taken Feb. 4 at Mocrocks showed levels at 14 parts per million, which falls under the 20 ppm action level, and another sample will be dug Thursday.
Two clean samples are needed before state Fish and Wildlife can look at opening a beach for digging, and results should come to light on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, samples taken at Long Beach on Jan. 26 was 5 ppm and Twin Harbors was 53 ppm so an opener might not happen in the foreseeable future. At Copalis on Feb. 4 it was 10 ppm.
Razor clam digging remains closed at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks until marine toxin levels drop below the action level, and a spike in marine- toxin levels led to an early closure last spring and all of autumn on coastal beaches.
State Fish and Wildlife alerted the public in early May after health test samples showed rising levels of domoic acid – a natural marine toxin produced by certain types of marine algae – that can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.
For updates on domoic acid, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_levels.html.