Razor clams are one of the most popular shellfish in the Pacific Northwest, so popular, in fact, that spring weekends may see over 1,000 clam diggers per mile along some sections of Washington beaches. Pursuing this mollusc for culinary reasons makes Washington Coast razor clam fishing a pursuit for the whole family.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) conducts an annual summer assessment of razor clam populations focusing on numbers under and over 3 inches. They then determine what the total allowable catch is for each of the various beaches, and set limited harvest periods from October through early May. The actual dates and open beaches are subject to change, primarily if collected samples are found to have marine toxins, making clams unsafe to eat. When this happens, harvest dates may be delayed or closed, and some beaches may be open while others are not. Digging for razor clams on closed beaches is prohibited.
Razor clams are found on coastal beaches that are exposed at low tide. Razor clam digging in Washington State primarily occurs at five beaches, also referred to as management zones. WDFW identifies these as Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis Beach, Mocrocks, and Kalaloch. A description of these, plus map, as well as all pertinent information about seasons, regulations, and digging can be found on the WDFW website.
What to Know and Bring
- One to two hours before low tide is prime time.
- Razor clams are located by looking for a ”show” in the sand, which is an air hole that appears like a dimple, keyhole, or doughnut.
- The tools for Washington Coast razor clam fishing include a clam shovel or clam gun. The former is like a pick while the latter is a tube-like device that extracts sand and clam. Here’s info on what to look for and how to dig.
- Bring an open container to put your clams in, and place a seawater-soaked towel over them. Don’t put an airtight cover on them or keep them in water.
- The daily limit per person for the 2021-2022 season was fifteen clams, but this is subject to change. Each digger must have a separate container for his/her clams.
- An annual license is required for anyone over 15 years old to fish for razor clams. In Washington, you can purchase a combination license, or a stand-alone razor clam license, or a stand-alone shellfish license for this purpose.
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