Big crowd hits beaches for clams

  • Wayne Kruse / Outdoor Writer
  • Wednesday, November 29, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

A whole lot of happy clam diggers burned up Thanksgiving dinner calories late last week, as probably the largest crowd of the fall/winter razor clam season hit the coastal beaches Friday and Saturday evenings.

“Digging pressure was a little heavier than we had anticipated, but not overly so,” said state Fish and Wildlife Department shellfish biologist Dan Ayerst in Montesano. “We were generally happy with the abundance and average size of the clams taken, particularly south of Grays Harbor.”

Weather and surf forecasts for the two-day dig were borderline, at best, but weather conditions ended up much better than anticipated. The surf came up on Saturday, Ayerst said, leading to somewhat more difficult digging that evening.

Remaining digs this season include Dec. 8-9 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, and Kalaloch; Dec. 10-12 at Kalaloch only; Dec. 13 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch; and Dec. 14 at Kalaloch only. The best remaining minus tides are a minus 1.4 on Dec. 12, and a minus 1.3 on Dec. 13.

Ayerst said there should still be plenty of clams left for the remainder of the season.

  • Steelhead: This weekend is the rule of thumb winter steelhead opener, and there are definitely a few fish available. River guide Sam Ingram of Arlington said a group of fish moved into the Lewis Street drift on the Skykomish at Monroe just before Thanksgiving, and have now eased slowly upriver to the Sultan area. He has seen several fish in the 12 to 14-pound range landed, along with the usual 6- and 8-pounders.

    Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood said one of his employees took an 11-pounder over the weekend at Reiter Ponds, and saw a couple of others caught. He said a few fish have also been reported from the Whidbey Island beaches, a sign that more steelhead are on the way.

    “Most of these early fish we’re seeing locally have been three-salts to 12 or 14 pounds,” Chamberlain said.

    Fishing has been good for a week or more on the Cowlitz, where checks of boat anglers below Blue Creek over the weekend showed better than a half-fish per angler average.

    Predictions of a large return of hatchery winter steelhead to the Cowlitz have prompted fisheries managers to open the lower portions of both Blue (trout/steelhead hatchery) and Mill (salmon hatchery/barrier dam) creeks to steelhead fishing for the month of December. Blue Creek will be open from its mouth to the posted sign about 40 feet below the rearing pond outlet. Mill Creek will be open from the mouth to the hatchery road culvert. All wild steelhead and fish with a missing right ventral fin must be released during the one-month season, and both night closures and non-buoyant lure restrictions will be in effect.

    There will be a special area set aside on Blue Creek for wheelchair-bound anglers at the rearing pond outlet. Additionally, anglers on Blue Creek will be able to keep sea-run cutthroat from what is developing into a record run of hatchery cutts. The regulation allows five trout from Blue Creek, only two of which may be over 20 inches. That means if you catch and keep a really big cutthroat, it will count as one of your two-steelhead limit.

    WDFW spokesman Joe Hymer in Vancouver said this small-stream fishery is an experimental one, to see if anglers can comport themselves in an orderly fashion and obey the regulations.

  • Salmon: What was probably a better than usual winter blackmouth season – both in numbers and average size – closes today and won’t reopen until the middle of February. Checks Saturday and Sunday at the Port of Everett ramp tallied 89 anglers with 14 chinook, averaging 5-6 pounds.

    There are still some tired chums available in area rivers, along with a scattering of fish that are in better shape. The chum run in south Puget Sound is also starting to drop off with the most recent WDFW checks on Kennedy Creek showing 13 anglers with 13 chums, averaging 10 pounds; 7 anglers on Perry Creek with 3 chums, averaging 9 pounds; and 18 anglers on McLane Creek with 4 chums, averaging 8 pounds.

  • Trout: A handful of winter-management trout lakes open to fishing Dec. 1 in various parts of Eastern Washington, with the closest to this area a group of four in Okanogan County. Green Lake and Little Green, five miles northwest of Omak, should put out 9- to 14-inch rainbow; Little Twin, two miles south of Winthrop, carries 11-inch ‘bows and holdovers to 16 inches; and Rat lake, five miles north of Brewster, offers rainbow 11 to 16 inches plus some 14-inch browns.

    Lone Lake on Whidbey Island, now managed as a trophy trout lake, has been providing excellent fishing this fall for rainbow of two general sizes – one age group going 13 or 14 inches, and a group of holdovers to 18 inches plus. Tackle shop owner Mike Chamberlain says the lake is particularly popular with fly fishermen, although it’s not flies only. He says fishing will slow with lowering water temperatures, and then should come alive again in late February or March.

  • Smelt: Jigging at the Deception Pass State Park pier on Cornet Bay has been fair to good recently.

  • Squid: Jiggers have started taking squid on the Seattle-area lighted piers, but the Edmonds pier remains slow.

  • Waterfowl: Wally Hoch of Ducks Inn Guide Service in Ephrata, 509-754-9670, says freezing temperatures in the Columbia Basin have moved many ducks off Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake, and concentrated them on the Columbia River at the Umatilla Reserve. He says many will move back, if temperatures warm. Some 59,500 geese were recently counted by a WDFW flyover, concentrated primarily on Moses Lake (18,500) and Stratford Lake (13,500).

    Diving duck numbers should continue to increase with colder weather, Hoch said, concentrating on Wanapum and Wells pools.

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