Outdoors

Spring morning razor clam digs are underway

A seven-day razor clam opening, mornings only, is underway as of Saturday, April 4, on four of the five traditional beach management sectors on Washington’s southwest coast.

Sunday morning digging is allowed on Mocrocks and Copalis beaches both north of Grays Harbor, Twin Harbors Beach between Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay and Long Beach, south of Willapa Bay.

For the remaining five days (Monday-Friday) just the Twin Harbors and Long Beach sectors will be available to diggers. Northernmost Kalaloch Beach, under National Park Service jurisdiction, remains closed throughout.

The big change for this dig is that participants must have some short- or long-term form of a new 2015-16 state personal use license that allows the gathering of razor clams. They can be purchased on-line at www.fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, on the phone at 866-246-9453 or over the counter at any fishing and hunting license dealer.

As mentioned these digs are so-called AM opportunities, (digging allowed only from midnight to noon). The first day’s initial low tide, close to which the best foraging done, is at 7:23 a.m., with about a 45-minute progress each day thereafter. The bag or daily limit is the first 15 clams, regardless of size or condition, unearthed.

Addition digs have been penciled onto the remainder of April as well as May’s calendar with all contingent on the clams clearing their fit-for-human-consumption tests (marine toxins remaining below health safety threshold level).

Those tentative digs are April 17-24, May 2-3, May 7-10 and May 15-17. Tests, by the statge health department will be done about a week before each set’s opening.

TRAFFIC’S MOVING

With snow in the day’s forecast and state transportation department maintenance personnel on watch, wheeled motor vehicle traffic resumed on North Cascades Highway at 10 a.m. Friday, April 3.

Northwest Washington anglers now have a more direct route to the Okanogan’s bevy of spring fishing holes.

The region’s main trout opener, featuring such renowned waters as Pearrygin, Conconully, Fish and Blue lakes is 20 days away (Saturday, April 25).

But if you look carefully at both a map and the 2014-15 personal use (sport) fishing regulations (incidentally that remain in effect this cycle until June 30) you find a number of waters now open either under special split or blanket year-round seasons.

Named still waters not listed in the eastside lakes special regulations listings (pages 85-95) are covered by the general or statewide freshwater rules found on pages 15-17 making them open throughout the year.

It’s more prevalent on the eastside than here, but many lakes, ponds and small irrigation reservoirs are either private water-bodies outright or are surrounded by privately owned lands meaning that unless you have permission, they’re practically and effectively off-limits.

Don’t forget to buy a new short or long term fishing license as the 2014-15 ones expired March 31.

MORE EASTSIDE NOTES

Filled to the brim: Following repair of a large spillway crack in Wanapum Dam, south of Vantage, the Grant County PUD facility’s namesake lake has been refilled and its public accesses and shorelines reopened.

The fish and wildlife department’s YoYo and Sunland Estates boat launch ramps are now functional with the restored water volume.

Wanapum Lake is the first of a trio of hydroelectric reservoirs between Priest Rapids Lake and Wells dams. It and the others are open year-round for gamefish retention, catch and release only for sturgeon and from the first of July to mid-October for salmon (these rules are on page 74).

Lakes sans trout: Five lakes in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will go without catchable-sized trout this season following their rehabilitation by the state fish and wildlife department.

The five waters are Sago, Hourglass, Widgeon and Upper and Lower Hampton lakes all located in the Drumheller Channels area south of O’Sullivan Dam.

Federal management policy allows some waters to be treated with rotenone for removal unwanted fish species, however restocking may only be done with fingerling or smaller trout.

In this case WDFW is able to put in two- to four-inch rainbows, but it will take a year or more for this to grow to angler favored size. Hampton Lakes in particular had a reputation in past decades for yielding very good-sized rainbows.

There are alternative lakes opening the first of April on the federal refuge in the immediate vicinity of the five rehabbed waters, so desert lands anglers there shouldn’t go trout-less.

VERNAL HUNTS ABOUT TO START

General spring turkey and limited entry (permit only) black bear hunts get underway in mid-April.

With its varied habitats Washington is able to host three wild turkey subspecies, eastern, Rio Grandes and Merriams.

The best gobbler opportunities are on the eastside, all along the east slope of the Cascades, in the Kettle Range and Selkirk Mountains of Northeast Washington, the Southeast’s Blue Mountains and between the Columbia River and Yakama Nation boundary.

On the westside, Merriams are found in the greater Willapa Hills of Southwest Washington.

Bruin options for those who drew a permit include specially designed hunt areas on state and private timberlands in Skagit and Snohomish counties as well as three other zones in central and southwest Washington.

Concurrent permits hunts also take place in forested, mountain terrain both north and south of Spokane in WDFW’s Region 1.

Both hunt opportunities will run through May and into June depending on locale. Hunters, whether successful or not, who take part in these two campaigns are required to make a report of their efforts as part of their annual hunting activities to WDFW on-line through a designated Web site portal.

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