PENINSULA — Clear skies and calm tides culminated ideal clamming conditions for the annual Long Beach Razor Clam Festival over the weekend, where thousands of diggers tried — and most succeeded — to find 15-clam daily limits.

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Max Smith, 6, won the smallest clam competition with his pea-sized entry while Randy Hasselstrom, of Lewiston, Idaho, took home the top-prize for the biggest clam, a 5.69 inch behemoth dug ‘way up on the north end.’

Many limited in less than 20 minutes while others had to work a little harder, but most found their 15 clams in matter of time. The weekend brought the Peninsula’s 2018-19 season to an end with a total of only four days, after a preseason census last summer found too many clams on the small side. The new season is set to start in October, with a preliminary prospect for much more abundant digging.

Diggers report bountiful razor clams

Seattle resident Dave Oliver was clamming on the Peninsula for the third year with his son, James. The father and son duo dug their limit in under 20 minutes.

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Left to right: Thomas Hutcheson, 11, Vanessa Meza, and Tyler Skepls, 12, paused from digging to pose for a photo with their biggest razor clam.

Farther north near the Bolstad beach approach was the Hahn family from Yelm. It was the first time clamming for the family of five, but it didn’t take long to learn. Sisters Elizabeth and Sehoya laughed as they raced to show their father their first razor clam, dug only moments after arriving on the beach.

Those who ventured farther north near Ocean Park and Oysterville were rewarded with the biggest clams. At Dennis Company, clam contests were held throughout the day, including biggest and smallest clam.

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A hole in one man’s clam bag resulted in one seagull’s bounty.

Randy Hasseltrom, of Lewiston, Idaho, took home the top prize for biggest clam for a 5.69-inch behemoth he dug “way up on the north end.” WDFW biologists estimated the clam was nearly five years old. Max Smith, 6, won the competition for smallest clam for an entry about the size of a raisin.

Columbia River Roadhouse crowned

The much-anticipated Clam Chowder Taste-Off featured 10 local restaurants vying for bragging rights and the coveted clam trophy at the Elks Lodge in Long Beach.

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Columbia River Roadhouse Owner Russell Maize hugged Jennifer Cahoon after learning their restaurant won first place in the chowder taste-off competition.

Castaway’s Seafood Grille, Pickled Fish, The Chowder Stop, The Cove, Long Beach Tavern, North Beach Tavern, Doogers, Crown Alley Irish Pub, Columbia River Roadhouse and Sara’s Rusty Spur were among the competing restaurants, representing the Peninsula from Chinook to Ocean Park.

Over two hours, more than 300 people tasted chowder samples and cast ballots for their favorites.

Among the last to vote was Xander Palmer, 6, who cast his vote for Columbia River Roadhouse. Palmer’s vote would prove pivotal as the Chinook-based business was crowned the 2019 chowder champions less than an hour later with 82 votes, just one more than second-place finisher Long Beach Tavern. In third place, receiving 45 votes was Sara’s Rusty Spur, their first year in the taste-off.

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