OLYMPIA - Four Washington razor-clam beaches will open for digging on morning tides April 9, 10 and 11, but Kalaloch Beach won't be one of them.
Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis and Twin Harbors beaches will all open to digging from midnight until noon all three days, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Ayres reminded clam diggers that they must purchase a 2005-06 license to participate in the upcoming dig, since previous licenses expired March 31.
WDFW confirmed plans to proceed with the scheduled three-day dig after marine toxin tests showed that the clams on four beaches are safe to eat.
But the razor clam fishery at Kalaloch Beach, jointly managed by WDFW and the Olympic National Park, will remain closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid, Ayres said. Domoic acid is a naturally occurring marine toxin that can be harmful and even fatal if consumed by humans.
Although toxin levels at Kalaloch declined in late March, allowing a two-day dig, recent tests found that domoic acid levels had again risen above the threshold identified under state and federal health standards, he said.
"We were really hoping to open all five razor clam beaches for the upcoming dig, but test results for Kalaloch scuttled that plan," Ayres said.
At the four other beaches, the upcoming opening marks the first time this season that diggers can harvest razor clams on morning tides, Ayres said. Digging will be restricted to the hours between midnight and noon each day.
For best results, Ayres recommends that clammers start digging at least one hour before low tide. Low tides during the upcoming dig are:
- April 9 (Saturday): 7:37 a.m., -0.6
- April 10 (Sunday): 8:20 a.m., -0.8
- April 11 (Monday): 9:01 a.m., -0.7
WDFW has also tentatively scheduled a morning dig April 23, 24 and 25 at all five beaches - including Kalaloch - although final approval of that dig will depend on the results of future toxin tests.
"A lot of people look forward to these morning digs, and we still have enough clams remaining under our harvest quotas for a least the two we now have scheduled," Ayres said. "So, if you like to dig clams on morning tides in spring, it makes sense to buy a license sooner rather than later."
Options include buying a 2005-06 annual shellfish/seaweed license, an annual razor clam license or a combination fishing license, all valid through March 31, 2006. Three-day razor clam licenses are also available.
Annual fishing and hunting licenses can be purchased three ways: Via the Internet at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, by telephone (1-866-246-9453) or in person at more than 600 license vendors throughout the state.
For anyone needing to purchase a license, Ayres strongly recommends doing so before leaving home to avoid long lines that often form at coastal license dealers during a dig.
However, to help ease the pressure on coastal dealers, WDFW will sell licenses at the Willapa Bay Field Station, 26700 Sandridge Rd., Ocean Park, on the Long Beach Peninsula. Licenses for the upcoming dig will be sold Friday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, April 9 from 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 10 from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and Monday, April 11 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams per day and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger's limit must be kept in a separate container.