OUTDOORS: Next round of razor clam digs set; state fishing records fall

WITH RISING RIVERS looking more like hot cocoa than fishable, only the hardiest or foolhardiest of anglers will be casting lines this holiday weekend.

Alternative options include spending time with family, shopping for more fishing gear, or getting things in order for hatchery steelhead fishing.

Anglers also can make plans for the next razor clam dig, set Friday, Dec. 1, through Monday, Dec. 4.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife approved the dig on evening tides after marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed before noon.

Some areas have a mix of both large and small razor clams. Diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig, regardless of size or conditions, to avoid wasting clams, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for Fish and Wildlife.

Diggers should also remember to bring a lantern for the digs with later low tides, Ayres said. The best digging typically occurs one to two hours before low tide.

The upcoming digs are approved on the following beaches, dates and evening low tides:

• Friday, Dec. 1: 4:42 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Copalis

• Saturday, Dec. 2: 5:29 p.m.; -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

• Sunday, Dec. 3: 6:15 p.m.; -1.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

• Monday, Dec. 4: 7:02 p.m.; -1.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Another dig has been tentatively scheduled for New Year’s Eve, Sunday, Dec. 31.

In the coming weeks, the department also will announce planned digs for January and February, Ayres said.

Records fall

Two state sport fish records fell during one late September weekend, Fish and Wildlife confirmed earlier this week.

Mike Benoit, of Gig Harbor, set a new state record for the largest opah (moonfish). Benoit caught the fish off the coast of Washington on Sept. 23.

The 37.98-pound fish measured 32.5 inches.

Benoit was live bait fishing with anchovies out of Westport.

The new record exceeded the previous opah record by more than two pounds. That record was held by Jim Watson on a fish caught 45 miles off the coast of Washington.

Then, on Sept. 24, Erik Holcomb of Lynden set a new state record for the largest blue shark.

The 49.50-pound fish measured 71 inches. Holcomb also was live bait fishing with anchovies out of Westport.

The new record exceeded the previous blue shark record by almost 22 pounds. That record was held by Zachary Jackson on a fish caught 57 miles off the coast of Washington.

A complete list of Washington’s sport fishing records is available at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/records/.

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