Port Townsend’s Brenda Burke fished for tuna 55 miles off of Westport with nine friends last week. The group caught 220 albacore tuna. Burke said the catch would have been 221 but a blue shark decided it wanted a meal.

Port Townsend’s Brenda Burke fished for tuna 55 miles off of Westport with nine friends last week. The group caught 220 albacore tuna. Burke said the catch would have been 221 but a blue shark decided it wanted a meal.

OUTDOORS: Proposed fall razor clam dates unveiled; bag limit increase proposal

LAST WEEK THE outdoors column featured an extended interview with Fish and Wildlife Department Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres on razor clam prospects for the upcoming fall season.

Unfortunately, the list of proposed digs wasn’t quite ready for release by the department’s communication managers.

But the dates are now out and diggers can plan fall clamming trips.

State shellfish managers have tentatively scheduled additional razor clam digs on ocean beaches for dates in October, November and December.

Final approval of all scheduled openings will depend on whether results of marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.

Approval of dates usually is released about a week before a proposed dig.

“Abundant razor clam populations on all beaches, except Kalaloch, are allowing for more digging opportunity this year,” said Ayres. “But, it is important that razor clam diggers be sure to only dig where it is allowed.”

The proposed razor clam digs to date, along with low tides and beaches, are listed below:

• Friday, Sept. 27: 5:52 a.m. -0.9, Long Beach

• Saturday, Sept. 28: 6:36 a.m. -0.8, Long Beach

• Sunday, Sept. 29: 7:19 a.m. -0.6, Long Beach

No digging is allowed after noon for the late September digs where low tide occurs in the morning.

October digs

• Saturday, Oct. 26: 5:59 p.m. 0.0; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis.

• Sunday, Oct. 27: 6:47 p.m. -0.8; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks.

• Monday, Oct. 28: 7:33 p.m. -1.2; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis.

• Tuesday, Oct. 29: 8:18 p.m., -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

• Wednesday, Oct. 30: 9:03 p.m., -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

• Thursday, Oct. 31: 9:50 p.m., -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks.

November and December

A number of digs are planned for November and December.

November dates include night time digs Nov. 1, 12-17 and 24-30.

December also has plenty of evening digs with dates set for Dec. 10-16, 23 and 26-29.

No digging is allowed before noon during digs in October, November and December where low tide occurs in the afternoon or evening.

Bad tides for New Year’s Day

Ayres notes that low tides around New Years Day are not low enough for successful razor clam harvest, so digging will not open then.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach.

Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license (starting at $9.70) to an annual combination fishing license, are available at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from some 600 license vendors around the state.

For the full schedule and more information, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

Bag limit change mulled

Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed Second Substitute House Bill 1579, which directed Fish and Wildlife to “adopt rules to liberalize bag limits for bass, walleye, and channel catfish in all anadromous waters of the state in order to reduce the predation risk to salmon smolts.”

The department is now asking for public input on a proposal to eliminate harvest restrictions for bass, walleye, and channel catfish in certain waters statewide, as well as on proposed updates to freshwater game fish rules.

The language in HB1579 was passed in part to implement the Governor’s task force recommendations meant to increase abundance of chinook, benefiting the endangered Southern Resident Orca Whale population. It would affect lakes, streams and other waters.

Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Co., loves fishing for bass and catfish, but doesn’t think a rule change would help a single salmon.

“It would have no impact at all,” Norden said. “Even the studies that seem to give credence have been debunked, usually because of ‘cherry-picked’ data. Even the current ‘jihad’ [Fish and Wildlife] has against northern pike is ridiculous. The “problem” is that the fish you mentioned don’t even inhabit the same habitat as salmonids except in very specialized situations like the choke point where Lake Washington water flows into Lake Union. In that situation, the salmonids (primarily sockeye) only go through there for two to three weeks a year in the hundreds of thousands while the bass only number in the low hundreds, if that.”

To review and comment on the proposals, visit WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/season-setting.

The public can comment on the proposed rules at the meetings or online through Oct. 17.

________

Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]

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