OLYMPIA – Clam diggers can ring out the old year and ring in the new with a razor clam opening that will begin Dec. 30 and stretch through New Year's Day.
Test results, announced today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Olympic National Park, showed that the clams are safe to eat.
Digs are scheduled Dec. 30, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 at five beaches -- Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. Two of them, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks, will offer a fourth evening of digging on Monday, Jan. 2. Digging is allowed from noon until midnight.
The National Park Service approved the digs at Kalaloch Beach, which is within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at the other beaches.
"We know that digging razor clams is a holiday tradition for a lot of families, and the tides cooperated this year," said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “It was 2001 when we were last able to offer an opener during this holiday. That year, 35,000 diggers enjoyed a uniquely Northwest way of welcoming in the new year.
Low tide will be at 6:07 p.m. (-0.8 feet) on Dec. 30, 6:54 p.m. (-1.1) on Dec. 31, 7:38 p.m. (-1.2) on Jan. 1 and 8:22 p.m. (-0.9) on Jan. 2. For best results, Ayers recommends that diggers hit the beach at least one hour before low tide.
Harvesters can 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.
Olympic National Park Supt. Bill Laitner recommends taking 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,” said Laitner. “With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”
The year-end clam opening marks the last of a series of digs that began in October. So far, it’s been a great season, said Ayres, noting that diggers have been averaging about 13 clams per trip. WDFW will announce additional openings in 2006 after shellfish managers complete an analysis of the number of clams still available for harvest, he said.
A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2005 annual shellfish/seaweed license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam-only license available in annual and three-day versions. Descriptions of the licensing options are available on the WDFW website at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.
Locations of the five beaches are:
- Long Beach, from the Columbia River north jetty to Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula.
- Twin Harbors, from the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor south to the mouth of Willapa Bay.
- Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River and includes the Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
- Mocrocks Beach, from the Copalis River to the Moclips River.
- Kalaloch Beach, from South Beach Campground to Brown's Point (just
south of Beach Trail 3) in Olympic National Park. Visitors to the park are advised to consult area bulletin boards for park safety and other information.
Digging is prohibited in the three one-quarter-mile-wide razor clam reserves, which are marked by 10-foot metal poles with signs. The reserves are located just south of the Ocean City access road on Copalis Beach, on the county line approach to Twin Harbors Beach, and 2.8 miles north of the Oysterville access road on Long Beach.