PENINSULA - Expectations for clamming on the Washington coast took a dive this week, when WDFW biologists announced a dramatic increase in the level of marine toxic levels. The razor clam fishery, one of the most sought after shellfish in the state is being adversely affected by the sudden increase of domoic acid, a naturally occurring marine toxin.
The toxin is caused by a number of different species of microscopic marine diatoms (any of a various minute unicellular colonial algae having siliceous cell walls consisting of two symmetrical parts) of the genus Pseudonitzschia. Now I'm really confused.
Anything over 20 parts per million (ppm) is reason for concern, Long Beach reached (132 ppm) this past week. The last time the level was this high (1998) the season was closed for the year.
The 1998 outbreak of domoic acid began in Southern California were large numbers of California sea lions were found stressed and showing obvious signs of neurological disorders. Eighty sea lions washed ashore and over 50 eventually died. Stomach analysis showed they had eaten significant amounts of anchovies and sardines, which had very high amounts of domoic acid.
Crab toxin level
Due to the fact that crabs are also subject to Marine toxin, I was concerned that WDFW had overlooked an issue vital to the recreational crab fishermen of the area. I was fortunate enough to reach Heather, out of the Montesano WDFW office, and she was very well informed and helpful.
She had just completed testing crabs and their toxin level was at one to two in our area and the highest that she found in Gray's Harbor was when the level was five. She said that crabs do not traditionally absorb the toxin at levels that clams do.
The action level for crabs is 30 ppm and we are now only at one to two ppm. The WDFW will be testing again mid-November and will keep us informed. Happy crabbing!
Sturgeon fishermen be prepared
Early indicators are that our 2003 sturgeon quota will be cut back by 10,000 to 15,000 fish. There will probably also be changes in the size limit (raising the minimum size) and closures on certain days of the week.
Largest salmon caught on a fly anywhere?
A 71-pound, 8 ounce male fall Chinook salmon was caught by Grant Martinsen of Grants Pass, Ore. While fishing with a small fly, that he tied that morning, he hooked the fish a few miles upriver from Gold Beach. He said that he could not put to much pressure on the fish because he was using his light fly rod and 6-8 pound leader.
He simply let the fish pull his boat around until it tired. When landed pictures were taken and the fish weighted on a certified state scale. The picture along with an application and the leader still attached to the fly, must be included.
The current record is 55-pounds, 1-ounce, from Clear Creek, Alaska in 2000.
Congratulations to this hardy group of "our generation" and neighbors. Ralph, I will give you a call, not to join your royal sport but to share your experiences with our readers. Thanks, again.