LONG BEACH and OCEAN PARK — The razor clam dig on April 20 was the biggest in at least a decade, according to an analysis by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“The Saturday crowd is the largest one-day total for at least the last 10 years — and likely much longer — whew!” WDFW Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres said on April 26 after looking at the statistics.
More than half a million clams were harvested over the weekend, which coincided with the Long Beach Razor Clam Festival, a long Easter holiday, and nearly ideal weather and tides. WDFW estimates 19,507 diggers participated Saturday and 14,268 Sunday. The average number of clams harvested per digger was a perfect limit of 15 Saturday and 14.6 Sunday.
After a preseason census last summer found that 81 percent of clams in Peninsula sands were less than 3 inches in length, WDFW decided on a constrained harvest here. In the end, there were only four days of digging — Dec. 22, Feb. 17 and the April weekend.
Although WDFW thinks only about 4,000 clams were harvested in the December dig, the season total came to more than 614,500, thanks to the huge total in April. This ended up far exceeding the quota of 333,557 set before the season.
The agency’s summer 2018 census found fewer than 2.1 million adult clams. However, nearly 10 million small clams were estimated to be making their way to being three inches or more in length — a 52-fold increase from the 2017-18 count.
“These small clams will be closer to 4 to 4.5 inches by next fall [the 2019-20 season] and make diggers much happier,” Ayres said at the time.