WDFW gives go-ahead for New Year’s razor clam digs

The traditional New Year’s razor clam dig on Pacific beaches is a go, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Department’s coastal shellfish boss Dan Ayres in Montesano. State health officials cleared clam samples Tuesday as below the marine toxin threshold and fit for human consumption, allowing the digs on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 to proceed as scheduled.

The two low afternoon tides are an excellent minus 1.2 feet at 5:12 p.m. Sunday, and minus 1.7 feet at 6:02 p.m. Monday. Sunday’s dig will be held on all beaches except Kalaloch, and Monday’s on Twin Harbors and Mocrocks only. Twin Harbors Beach extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor, and Mocrocks runs from the Copalis River to the south boundary of the Quinault Reservation, near the Moclips River. It includes Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips.

Ayres says larger clams will probably be found at Twin Harbors and on the north end of Long Beach, while populations will most likely be higher at Mocrocks.

“New Year’s digs are very popular,” Ayres said. “We’re pleased that this year’s low tides allow us to offer digging during this holiday time. There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than to get out and enjoy digging a fresh meal of razor clams.”

The best digging typically occurs one to two hours before low tide, Ayres said. No digging is allowed at any beach this time of year before noon. All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2017-18 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at and from vendors around the state.

The daily limit is the first 15 razor clams dug, regardless of size or condition, and each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

The traditional New Year on the beach includes a lot more than just digging clams. Kids run, dogs bark, there are Frisbees and kites, and beach fires into the evening hours (fires are legal, Ayres says, as long as they’re kept 100 feet or more away from the grass line). Some anglers bring surf fishing gear and fish for surf perch while they’re waiting for the minus tide. Something like a heavy steelhead rod/reel will work, with 10 ounces or so of Pyramid sinker on the end and a couple of droppers a foot or two above the sinker with number 2 bait hooks. Pieces of clam neck make good bait, or sand shrimp, or pile worms or crushed mussels. You can usually buy bait in any of the beach towns.

And don’t forget to bring an extra cooler for fresh crab, oysters, fish and other goodies for sale at the small seafood outlets up and down the beach.

“People have a great time and they look forward to it all year,” Ayres says. “We’ll hope it’s not snowing or blowing.”

The WDFW offers a lot of good information online to hep novice razor clam diggers. Go to the agency’s home page, then click fishing, then shellfish, then razor clams and look for current season info, tide charts, rules and regulations, things to do and places to stay, how to dig razor clams, cleaning your clams, and recipes.

The next tentatively scheduled digs are as follows:

Jan. 28, 4:06 p.m., minus 0.4 feet, at Mocrocks only

Jan 29, 4:59 p.m, minus 1.0 feet, at Copalis only.

Jan. 30, 5:47 p.m., minus 1.5 feet, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.

Jan. 31, 6:33 p.m., minus 1.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis.

Feb. 1, 7:17 p.m., minus 1.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.

Feb. 2, 8:00 p.m., minus 1.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis.

Feb 3, 8:42 p.m. Minus 0.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.

Another item you may wish to put on the calendar is the annual Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival and Seafood Extravaganza, scheduled this year for March 16, 17 and 18 at the Ocean Shores Convention Center. Chowder competitions, food, vendors, kids’ corner, cooking demonstrations, digging demonstrations, live music and more. Best to make accommodation reservations early. For more information contact the Ocean Shores/North Beach C of C at 360-289-2451, or www.oceanshores.org.

No ice yet

A spokesman for MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir in Grant County said mid-teen temperatures recently have started icing shorelines in the sand dune area and some places around the main lake, but nowhere near enough yet to think about ice fishing. For updates call 1-800-4162736.

Tokul Creek reopened

Steelhead fishing was reopened Saturday on Tokul Creek, from the Fish Hatchery Road Bridge to the posted boundary marker downstream of the diversion dam fish ladder. The opening runs through Feb. 15. A night closure is in effect, as well as anti-snagging rules.

This section of Tokul Creek has been closed to allow broodstock collection at the Tokul Creek Hatchery. Egg take goals have been met early, allowing for more fishing opportunity.

This seems to be one more indication that this winter steelhead run may be a little stronger than predicted.

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