MONTESANO – The first razor clam dig of spring has been scheduled at three ocean beaches by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Long Beach and Twin Harbors beach (including North Cove, Grayland and Westport) is scheduled to open April 6, 7 and 8, with digging limited to the morning (a.m.) hours. Mocrocks (including Iron Springs, Roosevelt, Pacific Beach and Moclips) is also scheduled to open during the morning (a.m.) hours of April 7 and 8.
Openings at all three beaches will depend on the results of marine toxin tests, which will be conducted several days before the scheduled digs. To check for any last-minute changes, diggers should call the WDFW shellfish hotline (1-360-796-3215) just before heading to the beach.
Copalis Beach (including Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis) will not open for recreational digging, since the state's share of the total allowable catch has already been reached. Members of the Quinault Indian Nation will be digging during the spring to harvest their share of the total allowable catch.
WDFW opened some beaches for a few days each month from October through February in response to comments made during a series of public meetings by people who wanted digging opportunities spread throughout the year.
"I think the general consensus was that the fall and winter openings were a big success," said Doug Simons, WDFW razor clam biologist. "In general, the digging was excellent and we expect more of the same."
Simons reminds diggers that 2000-2001 licenses will be required beginning
April 1 and recommends getting them early to avoid long lines right before the season opens. Most dealers should have the new licenses by March 1.
To dig clams on a non-commercial basis, an annual shellfish/seaweed license costs $7 for residents age 16 to 69. For seniors age 70 and older, the annual license costs $5, which is also the cost of a combination license required for residents and non-residents age 15. For non-residents age 16 and older, the annual license costs $20. A two-day license is also available for $6 that allows residents and non-residents to dig clams as well as go fishing in fresh or salt water during a 48-hour period.
Diggers must keep the first 15 razor clams harvested, regardless of size or condition, and each digger's limit must be kept in a separate container.
Diggers also are reminded that no digging is permitted in the quarter-mile wide razor clam reserves marked with signs on 10-foot orange metal poles. The reserves are located at the county line approach on Twin Harbors Beach and 2.8 miles north of the Oysterville approach on Long Beach.