Coastal razor clam harvesters are digging their way toward one of the best seasons that state shellfish managers have seen in a long time.
“This is definitely a stellar year,” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager. “Last year, we fell into that same category, and it looks like we’ll exceed that as we head into spring.”
A total of 61 digging days have been offered in the fall/winter season from Sept. 19 through Feb. 2. This season has produced more than 2.7 million razor clams taken from a total of 195,032 digger trips.
The average number of clams dug has been 13.7 (the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit) at Long Beach for 918,279 harvested by 67,055 diggers; 14.3 at Twin Harbors for 727,668 by 50,789; 14.2 at Copalis for 581,804 by 40,990; and 14.6 at Mocrocks for 535,703 by 36,813.
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The rebound of razor clam populations comes as no surprise to shellfish managers who saw an excellent abundance of juvenile clams on beaches last spring and summer during stock-assessment evaluations.
“We saw spectacular numbers of clams in our density surveys,” Ayres said. “We’ve also been seeing all kinds of strong recruitments of clams since October. There have been three successful spawning sets of young clams, so the future looks really good.”
Many clam diggers are gearing up for the spring when the weather is usually better and digging switches over to the morning, with daylight low tides beginning March 30.
“We expect to add some digs at Mocrocks and Copalis in April, but need to measure harvest levels next month before we can do that,” Ayres said.
All dates are tentative, and final word is usually announced about a week before each series of digs after marine toxin test results are approved.
Evening digs are planned Feb. 26, March 3 and March 26-27 at Twin Harbors; Feb. 27-28, March 2 and March 28-29 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks; March 1 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks and Copalis. Digging is allowed from noon to midnight.
Morning digs are planned March 30 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks; March 31 and April 14 at Twin Harbors; and April 1-3 and April 15-20 at Twin Harbors and Long Beach. Digging is allowed from 12:01 a.m. until noon each day.
Razor clam lovers can attend the Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival and Seafood Extravaganza on March 21-23. For details, go to www.oceanshores.org/clams.html
The Long Beach Razor Clam Festival is on April 19-20. For details, go to http://longbeachrazorclamfestival.com