LONG BEACH — Grab your boots and get your shovel, razor clamming will return for a one-day evening dig on the Long Beach Peninsula this weekend. The evening dig was approved for Sunday, Feb. 17, in Long Beach by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

Clam digs boost local commerce

Local retailers are rejoicing the announcement of the upcoming recreational clam dig which is likely to send a boost in business this weekend.

The economic impact of the razor clam season is profound, particularly for the Peninsula, which offers some of the most desirable clamming destinations in the state.

An economic impact report by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimated that diggers bring $22 million during an average season. On a single day, razor clam digs can draw up to 30,000 people to Washington’s beaches, according to state figures, with a high percentage coming to Long Beach.

Retailers and restaurants benefit from open clamming days as crowds from Seattle, Portland and surrounding towns often descend on the Peninsula for the digs.

At Dennis Company in Long Beach, selling a ‘couple hundred’ licenses ahead of single-day clam dig isn’t uncommon, according to Assistant Manager Jose Hernandez.

“A lot of people come looking for a clam license and they often leave with supplies too,” Hernandez said.

“People always seem to forget their boots.”

The store carries an array of clamming gear and accessories from $5 plastic clam nets to $150 steel clam guns and maximizes sales by offering discounts in anticipation of the seasons.

Clam demand

At Sportsmen’s Cannery in Seaview, owner Tina Ward has made special adjustments ahead of the increasingly popular razor clam seasons. Ward recently installed a new freezer to accommodate their growing line of frozen seafoods including scallops, prawns and razor clams. The expansion was largely driven by customer demand for razor clams.

“When there’s no digs, people still want clams,” Ward said in between boiling batches of Dungeness crab. About a month ago, the store started selling razor clams harvested from Alaska and Washington beaches, in Quinault.

“We had so many people asking for clams that we brought in both kinds,” Ward said.

The business also cleans clams for $10.50 per limit, or 15 clams. Ward is hopeful the weather this weekend will cooperate allowing for ideal conditions for diggers, and ultimately more business for her Seaview store.

“It’s really going to depend on the weather. If it’s clear, we’ll do really well, but not if the surf’s pounding and there’s a big surge,” Ward said.

“I’m excited.”

Tips from WDFW

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends that diggers hit the beach about an hour or two before low tide for best results.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2018-19 license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license (starting at $9.70) to an annual combination fishing license, are available at WDFW’s website and from license vendors around the state.

Under state law, clammers 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.

Luke Whittaker is a staff writer for Coast River Business Journal and the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or lwhittaker@crbizjournal.com.

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