Diggers should take precautions against COVID
MOST DIGS HAVE BEEN CANCELLED. CHECK THE WDFW SITE FOR THE MOST UPDATED INFORMATION.
The bountiful Washington state tradition of digging razor clams has returned with seven tentative digs set for October and more potential dates slated through Dec. 31.
Digs started in September on ocean beaches after marine toxin tests showed the clams were safe to eat.
Final approval of tentatively scheduled openings depends on the results of additional marine toxin tests.
Shellfish managers have set 32 dates for digs in October, November, and December. That means plenty of opportunity to get out and harvest this delicious bivalve that is part of so many traditional Northwest recipes, as long as marine toxin levels cooperate.
The dates tentatively set for October, along with low tides and beaches, are:
- Oct. 16, Friday, 7:00 p.m., -0.7; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
- Oct. 17, Saturday, 7:47 p.m., -1.3; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
- Oct. 18, Sunday, 8:35 p.m., -1.5; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
- Oct. 19, Monday, 9:24 p.m., -1.4; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
- Oct. 20, Tuesday, 10:16 p.m., -1.0; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
- Oct. 21, Wednesday, 11:12 p.m., -0.5; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
- Oct. 31, Saturday, 7:26 p.m., 0.0; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
For the rest of the tentative dates through Dec. 31, click here.
No digging is allowed before noon during digs when low tide occurs in the afternoon or evening.
Getting started digging razor clams can be pretty straightforward. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Clam gun or shovel
- Container/net to store your clams
- Flashlight, headlamp, and/or lantern for night digs
- Rain gear and a towel can come in handy
- As can knee boots, hip waders, or chest waders
- Watchful eye: Keep an eye on waves, especially during night tides
For more information on how to dig, click here.
License and regulation
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 on WDFW’s licensing website and from some 600 license vendors around the state. WDFW recommends buying your license before visiting coastal beach communities for this razor clam season.
Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.
Be sure to check the regulations for the latest clam-digging requirements and other sport fishing regulation updates.
For more information on clam beaches and management, click here.
Clamming during COVID
Digging this year is also contingent upon continued guidance from public health officials monitoring COVID-19 in coastal communities. Clam diggers are reminded to recreate responsibly.
“Close proximity can accelerate the spread of COVID-19, so we’re asking the public to take steps to thoroughly prepare for their visits to avoid increasing risk,” said Larry Phillips, WDFW coastal region director, who noted that WDFW is being guided by risk assessments from local and state health officials.
Health agencies are asking people to:
- Stay home if sick
- Practice social distancing of at least six feet
- Mask up
- Bring personal protective equipment like hand sanitizer
- Leave no trace: Pack out belongings and garbage
- Purchase licenses ahead of the trip
- Bring non-cash payment methods to reduce contact
- Follow local ordinances and guidelines
“Abundant razor clam populations are allowing for numerous digging opportunities this year,” said Ayres. “But, it is important that clam diggers only dig where it is allowed, pay close attention to the variable day openings on Copalis and Mocrocks, prefer weekday digging if possible to avoid crowds, and spread out while digging, especially now.”
While a bounty of razor clams provides “digging while distancing” opportunities along 58 miles of coastal beaches, public health officials will be closely monitoring new COVID-19 infection rates throughout the digging season and adjustments to the schedule might be made to reduce public health risk in-season.
Show us what you got
While you’re out digging razor clams, be sure to get some photos of the fun and your haul and participate in the Razor Clam Face-Off! Share your razor clam photos to social media using the hashtags #teamclamgun or #teamclamshovel to show your love for your preferred razor clam gear.
Once you’ve brought your limits home, it’s time for cleaning and cooking. There are numerous recipes for cooking razor clams. Below is one from our very own Dan Ayres, WDFW Coastal Shellfish Manager, for your enjoyment. Please note that you should properly clean all clams (remove and discard all of the gut material) before cooking.
Dan’s low-fat Razor Clam Chowder
Notes: Forget the salt pork, bacon, and the butter to try this tasty recipe to enjoy your razor clams and not feel guilty!
2 cups diced leeks (onions can be substituted)
2 cups potatoes (Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold are best) diced into ½ to ¼ inch cubes (think spoon sized)
3 large cloves of garlic, well diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil
2 pints canned razor clams chopped and liquid or 10 medium-sized fresh razor clams
1 quart low-fat butter milk
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups or more chicken broth (optional if you need more liquid)
1 teaspoon or more of Tabasco or sriracha sauce (optional)
Using a large cast iron Dutch oven (or similar sized soup pot) sauté the leaks and the potatoes in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, until they just begin to brown. Add the diced garlic at the end and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add clams to the pot and sauté another 3 to 5 minutes. Add butter milk and evaporated milk and heat to just below a simmer for a few more minutes, or until potatoes are done. Heat until piping hot, but do not boil. Serves 6.
— Dan Ayres, WDFW Coastal Shellfish Manager