MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Will razor clam population bounce back at Kalaloch Beach?

THE FEARED DEMISE of Kalaloch Beach’s razor clam population will be put to the test this weekend.

Surf conditions are expected to be good, and the weather fair for this weekend’s set of openers at the Olympic National Park beach.

So if there’s something wrong with Kalaloch’s clams, as some park biologists suggest could be the case, we should have a good idea after Friday and Saturday.

As park coastal ecologist Steve Fradkin said after the last set of digs in January produced poor harvest rates, the park service will certainly be paying attention.

“I think we’re really looking at these next set of digs [to see what] we have,” Fradkin said.

“It will really be interesting to see what that next set of digs is in terms of whether we get a bounce back in digger success.”

Diggers averaged approximately one clam per person during the two openers in late January. The two digs before that around the New Year’s holiday weren’t much better (4.1 clams per digger).

A large part of that, however, could be attributed to poor digging conditions.

The New Year’s digs had positive low tides (minus tides are preferred), while the late January harvests were accompanied by rough surf and poor weather.

Still, Fradkin and company are keeping a close eye on Kalaloch when it opens to afternoon digging Friday and Saturday.

“It raises a little bit of concern because the last set of digs we saw a marked decrease in the catch per effort,” Fradkin said in late January.

“This certainly seems to be a drop in the digger success, but the last two sets of digs we’ve not had really optimal conditions.

“On New Year’s they were positive tides, but we didn’t see where the clam beds were exposed. We didn’t see a whole lot of [clam] shows, and we did see some dead razor clam shows on the beach.”

Obviously, that last part raises an eyebrow.

Dead clams washed ashore right before the Kalaloch razor clam population went in the tank four years ago.

That led to complete closures of the beach to razor clam digging for two straight years.

If diggers can rebound a little bit this weekend at Kalaloch, perhaps we can all breath a sigh of relief.

Four other ocean beaches (Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Long Beach) will open to digs this weekend.

That begins with Twin Harbors opening today through Saturday to afternoon digging and includes Friday and Saturday digs at Copalis, Mocrocks and Long Beach.

It is recommended that diggers get on the beach at least one hour before low tide. Here are the tides for each day:

■ Today — Minus 0.9 feet at 5:53 p.m.

■ Friday — Minus 0.9 feet at 6:33 p.m.

■ Saturday — Minus 0.5 feet at 7:13 p.m.

For more information on coastal razor clams, visit

Derby days

The legal briefs have all been put away (I hope). The boundaries have been set.

The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby — formerly the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby — comes to the area this Saturday through Monday.

All that remains is for one lucky (Or is it skillful?) angler to haul in the biggest fish in the ladder (hatchery only) and bring home enough cash ($10,000) to start paying off all of those fishing debts.

Tickets for the event cost $40 for one day or all three days, and can be found at several Peninsula merchants.

Look for more on the derby in Friday’s outdoors column.

For more information and event rules, visit


Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at

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