Some of the lowest tides of the summer are happening this week in Puget Sound and Hood Canal, leaving ample beach exposure for gathering clams and oysters or simply beachcombing.

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Some of the lowest tides of the summer are happening this week in Puget Sound and Hood Canal, leaving ample beach exposure for gathering clams and oysters or simply beachcombing.

“With the big low tides it is going to be crazy good for shellfish-harvesting opportunities,” said Camille Speck, a state Fish and Wildlife shellfish manager in Port Townsend. “We are very fortunate to have this abundant shellfish resource.

“The upcoming low tides will be a good time to hit the beaches, especially if you plan to try your luck at geoduck. There are a few places in Hood Canal that have public access to harvest geoduck.”

The geoduck — a name originating from a Native American word meaning “to dig deep” — is one of the oldest and largest clams. It can weigh up to 10 pounds and live as long as 140 years.

Most of the geoducks are buried in the sand about 3 to 4 feet deep, and are commonly found on the intertidal area beyond the minus 1- to 2-foot line.

Puget Sound’s bays and estuaries host the highest density of geoducks in the United States.

“Dosewallips State Park and Duckabush beaches (in Jefferson County) are great sites for geoduck, but each are also good for other shellfish,” Speck said. “Dosewallips is a fabulous and popular beach that is good for clams and oysters.

“Duckabush is similar to Dosewallips, but doesn’t see the effort and is a lot less crowded. It has a great Manila clam bed and a good site for oysters too.”

Another less-traveled location for shellfish is Quilcene Bay’s state Fish and Wildlife tidelands that has a large Manila clam population. For this location only, the minimum size limit for clams is 1¼ inches compared to other beaches where it is 1½ inches. Quilcene also has some native littleneck clams and eastern softshell clams.

“Another decent oyster beach is the Triton Cove Tidelands, which is located a quarter mile north of Triton Cove State Park,” Speck said.

The Triton Cove Tidelands is open through Aug. 31 for clam harvesting, and open year-round for oysters. There are some pockets of Manila clams and native littleneck clams. Butter clams can be found in the mid-low tidal zone.

In the Puget Sound region, one of the more popular locations is Birch Bay County Park and State Park that are open year-round for clams and oysters.

“West Penn Cove (in Island County on Whidbey Island) has decent clamming, and is a huge area that covers a lot (of) tidelands that wrap all the way around Penn Cove and extends to Coupeville,” Speck said. “There are clam places all along the West Penn shoreline. Most will concentrate their efforts near the access points, but those willing to walk can find plenty more opportunity on this beach.”

West Penn Cove is also a site Speck recommends for those looking to take home some mussels.

Another new beach that just came into play is West Drayton in Whatcom County that covers a portion of Semiahmoo Spit. It is abundant with Manila clams and has seen a low turnout of people.

In southern Puget Sound, the Oyster Reserves of Oakland Bay is filled with Manila clams. Do take into consideration the year-round shellfish ban on all beaches on the east side of Puget Sound, from Everett south to Olympia, due to pollution and marine toxins, and waste-treatment plant closures.

Various shellfish marine toxins and other health issues can pop up at a moment’s notice on beaches, so Speck recommends that shellfish gatherers check the Department of Health web site on the day they plan to head out.

Also, know the rules first by checking the regulation pamphlet, then visit the state Fish and Wildlife web site, and their hotline at 866-880-5431, check online here or call the marine biotoxin hotline at 800-562-5632.

Upcoming northern Puget Sound low tides are: Tuesday, minus-1.6 feet at 10:17 a.m.; Wednesday, minus-2.2 at 10:57 a.m.; Thursday, minus-2.5 at 11:38 a.m.; Friday, minus-2.5 at 12:21 p.m.; Saturday, minus-2.3 at 1:05 p.m.; July 5, minus-1.6 at 1:50 p.m.

Information in this article, originally published June 27, 2015, was republished June 28, 2015 to include additional information about where diggers can check for closures because of toxins and marine closures.