Chinook make late arrival on Columbia River

By Wayne Kruse, Herald Writer

April 10, 2014

The spring chinook run on the Columbia River has finally picked up, just in time for the season to expire. The popular lower-river fishery for bright, feisty springers closes Monday, and no season extension is planned at this point. After the numbers are crunched, it’s possible an extension could be announced, Fish and Wildlife Department biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver said, but it probably wouldn’t take place until mid-May and it would be a short extension.

“What I think they’re looking at,” Hymer said, “would be to run it right on into the summer chinook season.”

The springer fishery started slowly, due in part to high, dirty, cold water conditions, Hymer said, and better success rates have followed a clearing, warming trend.

“We got off to a bad start,” he said, “but fishing has picked up the last few days to a point where it looks like we’ll come close to hitting predictions.”

The kings have been scattered from Cathlamet up to BonnevIlle Dam, and fishing has been good one day and not so good the next. Anglers are trolling herring, with or without a FishFlash, on both tides but primarily in a downstream direction. Others anchor on the ebb and put out Kwikfish with a sardine or tuna-belly wrap.

Tuna belly?

Sardines, anchovies, even herring in a pinch, but tuna belly?

“Yeah,” Hymer said. “Lots of oil and scent there. Works pretty well.”

Popular plug colors include silver, chartreuse, greens and pinks.

State creel checks late last week and over the weekend on the river below Bonneville counted 2,557 salmonid anglers (including 835 boats) with 316 adult and two jack springers, and nine steelhead. Effort had increased through Sunday, when a flight counted 1,300 boats and 1,146 bank anglers on the lower river.

 

 Peninsula steelhead

A very good wild-stock steelhead fishery is underway on the Olympic Peninsula, according to Bob Gooding at Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330), and unlike a lot of late seasons, the Sol Duc isn’t the only venue.

“It’s a good run of native fish,” Gooding said. “The hatchery run this winter was disappointing, but the wild fish are showing up pretty well.”

Most of the eight rivers centered in the Forks area that allow retention of one native steelhead per season have been putting out fish, Gooding said. The Sol Duc is probably the best, especially since there are a few spring chinook available on the lower end.

“Add springers to a good late steelhead run and you have a circus,” Gooding said. “Pressure on the Sol Duc has been pretty heavy.”

The Calawah, Bogachiel and Hoh also have been kicking out natives, according to Gooding, which has eased crowding on the Sol Duc a little.

The Hoh is popular, particularly with fly fishermen.

“They don’t catch a ton of fish,” Gooding said, “but a lot of them fish the Hoh. It has a lot of open gravel bars, access is pretty good, and it’s a relatively easy river to fish.”

Almost everyone else uses a float/jig or float/pink plastic worm.

“And I personally don’t care for that gear,” Gooding said. “I may be old-fashioned, but I like to drift my rig down the gravel and feel that ‘tap, tap’ and know I’m about to have a blast. Float fishing, all you do is sit and watch the float all day and when it goes ‘blip’ you start reeling and the fish is either there or it isn’t. Not my cup of tea.”

State Fish and Wildlife Department personnel checked 82 anglers on the Sol Duc over the weekend, 71 boat fishermen and 11 bankers, with two native fish kept and 120 releasedplus two hatchery fish kept. On the Bogachiel it was 12 boat fishermen with 16 natives released and two hatchery fish kept. On the lower Hoh, it was 35 bank anglers and 32 boaters with 22 natives released, and on the upper Hoh, 48 anglers with 13 natives released.

 

 Razor clams

The last razor clam dig on the coastal beaches drew a near-record crowd, probably because of the switch from winter evening tides to the more popular morning tides. Weather and surf didn’t cooperate fully, according to state shellfish manager Dan Ayres in Montesano, and the average number of clams per person swung from 4.1 to about 13, depending on the day and the beach.

Next up is a tentative series of tides as follows: Monday, 6:46 a.m., plus 0.2 feet, at Twin Harbors beach; Tuesday, 7:24 a.m., minus 0.3 feet, at Twin Harbors and Long Beach; Wednesday, 8:03 a.m., minus 0.6 feet, at Twin Harbors and Long Beach; April 17, 8:43 a.m., minus 0.8 feet, at Twin Harbors and Long Beach; April 18, 9:26 a.m., minus 0.8 feet, at Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks; April 19, 10.14 a.m., minus 0.7 feet, at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks; and April 20, 11:06 a.m., minus 0.4 feet , at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks.

Ayres warns clam diggers that a 2014 license is needed. Licenses range from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license.

Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood (425-743-9505) looked around the area and came up with the following:

Blackmouth fishing: better the farther west you go, around Port Townsend and beyond; slow locally.

Kokanee: starting to show in Lake Stevens, but probably won’t be steamin’ until at least the end of April.

Smelt: The Oak Harbor Marina and Cornet Bay are putting out surprisingly good smelt jigging, or at least better than it was early in the winter season.

Fly fishing: Pretty fair reports from fly fishermen working Lone Lake on Whidbey Island and Pass Lake south of Anacortes.

For more outdoor news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.

 

 

Razor clam dig starts March 28; more digs tentatively set for April

Easter weekend clamming

March 20, 2013
Contact: Dan Ayres, (360) 249-1209

 OLYMPIA – State shellfish managers have approved a four-day razor clam dig starting March 28 and scheduled tentative dates for additional openings in April.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the late-March dig after marine toxin test showed the clams are safe to eat.

Twin Harbors beach will be open for morning razor clam digging March 28-31.

Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks will be open to digging March 29-30.

No digging will be allowed at any beach after noon. The schedule, along with morning low tides, is:

  • March 28, Thurs., 7:57 a.m., -0.3 ft., Twin Harbors
  • March 29, Fri., 8:40 a.m., -0.6 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • March 30, Sat., 9:26 a.m., -0.7 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • March. 31, Sun., 10:16 a.m., -0.6 ft., Twin Harbors

By law, clam diggers are limited to 15 razor clams per day, and are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2012-13 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

Meanwhile, WDFW has tentatively scheduled two morning digs in April, subject to favorable marine toxin tests. Final word on these digs will be posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, reminds diggers they will need to purchase a 2013-14 license to participate in the April openings, since current fishing licenses expire at midnight March 31. Licenses are available online (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone (1-866-320-9933) and from license dealers around the state.

Tentative opening dates in April, along with morning low tides, are:

  • April 9, Tues., 6:39 a.m., 0.0 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 10, Wed., 7:19 a.m., -0.3 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 11, Thurs., 7:57 a.m., -0.4 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 12, Fri., 8:34 a.m., -0.4 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 13, Sat., 9:11 a.m., -0.2, ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 14, Sun., 9:49 a.m., +0.1, ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 24, Wed., 6:10 a.m., -0.3 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 25, Thurs., 6:54 a.m., -1.0 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 26, Fri., 7:38 a.m., -1.5 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 27, Sat., 8:24 a.m., -1.7 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 28, Sun., 9:11 a.m., -1.7 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 29, Mon., 10:01 a.m., -1.5 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks
  • April 30, Tues., 10:55 a.m., -1.0 ft., Twin Harbors

3 Ways to Catch Razor Clams

From Do it yourself

Razor clams are coastal shellfish, known for their rarity and their meaty contents. Found in the sand of the intertidal coastal beaches, they can be harvested in several ways.

The best way to start is to get to the beach is early in the morning, so you can follow the tide out. First, look for a “clam show.” At the edge of the surf line, there will be small dimples or holes in the wet sand as the water ebbs. It’s where the clam has stuck its neck out and tried to dig to go back to the sea. As soon as you see the telltale hole, start quickly with one of these methods:

Tools you will need gloves (razor clams are so named because of the sharp edges of their shells), ice chest, clam gun or tube (for1st way), clam shovel or other sharp curved, narrow bladed shovel (for 2nd way) and table salt (for 3rd way). Although, the tools will majorly depend on how you are catching clams.

Ways to Catch Razor Clams:

1. With a Tube or “Clam Gun”

The tube, or “clam gun,” you need for razor clams is about 2-3 feet long and 4 inches in diameter, with a ½ inch hole at the top. Stainless steel or metal will work best for digging in wet sand. The best idea is to just go to a fishing supply store and get a clam gun, but if you have something similar it could work just as well. A clam gun has a T-shaped top so you don’t have to try and cover it with your fingers while digging.

When you spot a clam show, place the tube around it, with the hole in the center and work the tube down into the sand at least 2 feet. Then cover the hole at the top and remove the tube. Empty the tube onto the beach and take the clam or clams out and put it in your ice chest. Clam guns can be difficult to use on rocky or pebble-filled beaches.

2. Dig With a Clam Shovel

Once you locate the holes in the sand, dig quickly with a clam shovel. Go straight down about 3-6 inches from the center of the clam show. Place the back of the shovel facing the hole and begin removing sand. Don’t curve it toward the center of the hole because you risk cutting the clam off at the neck or breaking the shell. Keep scooping straight down until you expose the clam. Then reach in and carefully grab it by the neck or shell and place it in your ice chest. 

3. Salt Them Out

Razor clams are extremely sensitive to salinity. One way to reduce your effort and have the clams come to you is to use table salt. As soon as you see the show, when it is open widest, pour salt into the hole. The clam should emerge in order to escape the salt and then just catch it and place it in your ice chest.

Be sure to check fishing rules and seasons with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (1-866-880-5431). There’s a limit on how many clams you can harvest at one time. So be very careful when digging, especially with the clam shovel. The clams are fairly delicate and break easily. Clams with broken shells will die, but they will also count for your total, so don’t discount the broken ones. They can still be eaten, just harder to clean.

Next razor clam dig starts March 7

March 01, 2013
Contact: Dan Ayres, (360) 249-1209
Washington State Dept of Fish and Wildlife

 clams_shovelWSDFW

OLYMPIA – State fishery managers have approved an evening razor clam dig that will run March 7-11 at Twin Harbors and some of those days at three other ocean beaches.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the evening dig after marine toxin tests showed the clams on those beaches are safe to eat.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said the dig will extend for five consecutive evenings at Twin Harbors, the beach with the most clams available for harvest. Long Beach will be open for digging March 8-10, while Copalis and Mocrocks will be open March 9-10.

No digging will be allowed at any beach before noon.

Ayres said an extra evening of digging – March 8 – has been added to the original schedule at Long Beach, because diggers harvested fewer clams than expected there last month.

In planning a trip to the beach, all diggers should be aware that Daylight Saving Time starts March 10, Ayres said.

“If you forget to set your watch ahead, you could miss an hour of prime digging,” he said, noting that the best digging occurs an hour or two before low tide.

Evening low tides for the upcoming dig are as follows:

  • March 7, Thursday, 3:06 p.m., +0.3 ft., Twin Harbors
  • March 8, Friday, 4:01 p.m., 0.0 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach
  • March 9, Saturday, 4:50 p.m., -0.2 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • March 10, Sunday, 6:33 p.m., -0.2 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • March 11, Monday, 7:12 p.m., 0.0, Twin Harbors

By law, clam diggers are limited to 15 razor clams per day, and are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2012-13 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ and from license vendors around the state.

map_beaches

Beaches in Washington with razor clam fisheries include:
Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.

Information about the location of Washington’s razor clam beaches, as well as current and proposed digs, is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.