Three tentative razor clam openings through April, totaling 22 dig days and starting with a six-day set spanning the turn of the February/March calendar, have been scheduled by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for several Pacific Coast beaches.
These prospective digs are contingent on naturally occurring marine toxins in shellfish staying below thresholds currently considered unsafe for humans.
The middle stanza slated for the end of March also will feature the annual transition from the fall/winter evening (noon to midnight) legal digging period to midnight to noon openings coinciding spring's morning minus tides.
There are five razor clam beach management sectors along Washington's ocean coast that have traditionally been opened for the taking of these unusual bivalves but for this sequence only four will be available and one beach zone, Copalis Beach north of Grays Harbor, will be open for just one day.
Dig days are selected for the occurrence of a sequence of minus or zero level low tides where ocean waters run out far enough to expose clam-bearing sands. Ebb slacks or turns advance about 45 minutes from day to day.
Besides marine toxin levels and cooperative ocean tide considerations, cumulative digger success (harvest rates and total take-home numbers) through the course of the season plays a key role in scheduling razor clam digs as do the harvest sharing plan between the state and treaty tribes and input from the various coastal communities whose economies are significantly influenced by the influx _ or lack thereof _ of tens of thousands of visiting clam enthusiasts.
A some short- or long-term version state license permitting the harvest of razor clams is required to dig in these clamming sectors. Beaches inside treaty reservation boundaries are closed to digging by non-treaty persons as are all coastal beaches under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service unless otherwise specified.
For more information about these digs, the health clearance announcement (usually about a week in advance of the first day), razor clam digging tips and recipes, log onto: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.