(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)
Clam diggers can ring in 2011 with a three-day razor clam dig on Washington’s coastal beaches over the New Year’s holiday.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the series of evening digs after marine toxin tests showed that the clams on all five coastal razor clam beaches are safe to eat.
All of those beaches – Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch – will be open for clam digging Friday, Dec. 31, and Saturday, Jan. 1, from noon to midnight. One beach, Twin Harbors, will also be open from noon to midnight Sunday, Jan. 2.
The National Park Service scheduled the dig at Kalaloch, which is within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at the other beaches.
Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, is expecting a big turnout, noting that more than 22,000 razor-clam diggers have flocked to Washington beaches during previous New Year’s Eve openers.
“Razor clam digging has become a New Year’s tradition for thousands of Washingtonians,” he said. “We’re pleased that the tides allowed us to offer another holiday dig this year.”
In fact, low tide on Dec. 31 will occur at 3:40 p.m., setting the stage for the first daylight dig of the season.
“The tides are with us this year,” Ayres said. “Next year they’ll be too high to offer any kind of digging opportunities over New Year’s.”
In early January, WDFW will release a tentative schedule of digging days in early 2011, Ayres said. As in the past, final approval of those dates will depend on the results of future marine toxin tests.
Opening dates and evening low tides for the upcoming dig are:
Dec. 31, Fri. – 3:40 p.m., (0 ft.), Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
Jan. 1, Sat. – 4:31 p.m., (-0.4 ft.), Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
Jan. 2, Sun. – 5:18 p.m., (-0.7 ft.), Twin Harbors
For best results, Ayres recommends that diggers get started about an hour before low tide. Those heading to Copalis and Mocrocks account for possible delays on eastbound U.S. Highway 101 in Hoquiam due to emergency work on the Simpson Avenue Bridge.
Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin also recommends that diggers take safety precautions during night digs, especially at Kalaloch.
“Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions,” she said. “With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”
Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.
A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2010 annual shellfish/seaweed, razor clam or combination license is still valid. Licenses can be purchased via the Internet at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov , by telephone (1-866-246-9453) or in person at more than 600 license vendors throughout the state.
Washington’s razor clam beaches include:
Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.