Clamming brothers

Cooper Petit, 10, grabbed a razor clam pulled by his brother Byron, 8, as their mother Angela looked on during a February dig. ‘They’re digging them all — not momma,’ Angela joked.

OLYMPIA — With sunny skies and temperatures near 60 in the forecast, a two-day razor clam dig has been approved on the Long Beach Peninsula this weekend, April 20 and 21, just in time for the annual Razor Clam Festival.

Likely marking the close of the Peninsula’s meager 2018-19 season, which included only two prior digging days, a large and enthusiastic crowd is anticipated.

State shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife approved the dig on morning low tides after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat. The opening had been uncertain, since last week levels of the plankton species that can produce toxic domoic acid were fluctuating.

The dig is approved on the following beaches, dates, and low tides:

• April 20, Saturday, 7:58 a.m.; -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis;

• April 21, Sunday, 8:42 a.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

• April 22, Monday, 9:25 a.m.; -1.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

“This is a weekend opening that should not be missed,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “The Long Beach Razor Clam festival on Saturday (http://longbeachrazorclamfestival.com), features clam digging and chowder contests, clam digging lessons, and live music — even pirates and mermaids making an occasional appearance.”

Although the beach in north Pacific County, which WDFW refers to as Twin Harbors, has been highly productive for clams this season, Long Beach/Ocean Park was kept closed on all but two days this winter because a preseason census found the clams were too small for harvest. They have been growing well, however, and exceeded an average of 4 inches during a Feb. 17 dig.

Avoid nesting plovers

As in past years, WDFW is asking beachgoers to take care to avoid nesting snowy plovers.

“With barely 100 of these birds still surviving on the Southwest Washington coast, it is vitally important for beachgoers to stay out of posted areas,” Ayres said. “Snowy plover nests are nearly invisible, so we want people to give these birds the space they need to live and thrive during their nesting period, especially near Midway Beach and while walking towards the north end of Long Beach.”

Ayres recommends people avoid leaving leftover food or trash on the beach — which attract predators — avoid the dunes as much as possible, and heed the 25-mile per hour speed limit if driving on the beach.

Diggers should hit the beach about an hour or two before low tide for the best results.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2019-20 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach; 2018-19 licenses are no longer valid for this dig. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license (starting at $9.70) to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

Oregon’s North Coast

Domoic acid levels in razor clam meat closed Clatsop County beaches to harvest in early March. Now recent shellfish samples indicate the toxin levels have fallen below the closure limit, according to information released by the Oregon Department of Agriculture on April 12.

Recreational razor clamming is now open in Oregon from the Columbia River to Cape Blanco, north of Port Orford.

Oregon fishery managers struggled to secure the samples that made the opening possible. Bad weather made it difficult, even at low tide, to access the sandbars in Clatsop Beach. Matt Hunter, the state shellfish project leader, preferred to pull a sample there since those areas are where the majority of people look for razor clams.

Most of the razor clams harvested in Oregon come from the highly productive beds in the Clatsop Beach and Sunset Beach areas. The 18-mile stretch of beach includes South Jetty and Fort Stevens State Park.

These beaches had already experienced an unusual extended closure to give small razor clams more time to grow. The harvest opened briefly at the beginning of March before being shut down due to domoic acid.

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