MATT SCHUBERT: Razor clam season stutter-steps in region

DUST OFF THE lamp and start saving gas money.

This fall’s razor clam season demands both.

Yes, it’s time to start thinking about razors, with the start of the season likely coming during the third weekend in October.

The bad news for North Olympic Peninsula clammers is two-fold.

  • First off, this autumn’s evening tides couldn’t be more “evening” if they tried.

    All three of the best tides this fall, which also happen to fall during the weekend, come after 7:30 p.m.

    So there promises to be lots of clamming in the dark, which is fine if you have a good lantern and a solid constitution.

    But wet and dark conditions tend to bring out the worst in clammers, especially those of the adolescent variety.

  • Secondly, it appears that once again Olympic National Park’s Kalaloch Beach, the Peninsula’s closest razor clamming opportunity, won’t see a shovel pierce its pristine sands.

    State coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres said the beach lacks a significant population of decent-sized clams (4-inch range) to merit an opener.

    That’s according to this summer’s coastal razor clam stock assessment, which was recently completed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    It’s not all bad news on the Kalaloch front, however.

    “Kalaloch has rebounded really nicely, actually quite surprisingly [from low populations the last two years],” Ayres said. “We’ve seen a real nice recruit of small clams there.

    “The average size is well under three inches, but there is a good chance they will grow beyond that. Our tentative plan is to let them do that.”

    Kalaloch’s razor clam population took a huge hit a couple of years ago, likely due to outbreak of Nuclear Inclusion X (aka NIX).

    The endgame was a 65-percent decline in razor clam populations from 2006 to ’07.

    The beach, located about a half hour south of Forks on U.S. Highway 101, did not open to a single dig last fall through spring in an effort to help it rebound.

    Ayres said it’s doing just that.

    He even went so far to suggest that Kalaloch could be included in next spring’s morning digs, which typically fall in April and May.

    Even if that doesn’t happen, he said, “certainly next year it’s going to look real good there.”

    Razor clam populations appear to be on the rise at four of the other five coastal beaches.

    And luckily for we hallowed Peninsulites, the healthiest beaches are the ones that happen to be the closest — Copalis and Mocrocks.

    “Copalis and Mocrocks both have real nice populations, especially on Mocrocks,” Ayres said.

    “We saw that happening during the course of the season last year. The beach just south of Grays Harbor [Twin Harbors] is the one that has had a decrease [in population].”

    State shellfish managers will seek public input about the fall razor clam season during a series of meetings later this month.

    At the meetings Fish and Wildlife biologists will review the 2007-08 season and discuss the findings of this summer’s stock assessment for the coast.

    The fall season will be set after the public has had a chance to comment, Ayres said.

    The public meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Long Beach — Monday, Sept. 15, at the Super 8 Motel, 500 Ocean Beach Blvd.

  • Westport — Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Ocosta High School library, 2580 Montesano St.

  • Ocean Shores — Thursday, Sept. 25, at the Shilo Inn (Pacific/Rainier Room), 707 Ocean Shores Blvd. N.W.

  • Fife — Friday, Sept. 26, at Fife High School in the school administration building, 5802 20th St. E.

    A fifth meeting to be held in Forks will be announced later.

    Those unable to attend the public meetings can submit written comments to Fish and Wildlife through Oct. 5.

    Mail comments to Dan Ayres, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. Or send an e-mail to Dan Ayres at [email protected].

    For more information, visit wdfw.wa.gov.

    Matt Schubert is the outdoors columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears Thursdays and Fridays. Contact him at 360-417-3526 or [email protected]

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