Memorable razor clam digging season wraps up with a record harvest
Nearly half-a-million digger trips taken during 120 calendar days of digging in the 2021–2022 season
The coastal razor clam season wrapped up on Saturday (May 7) in what’s been a very memorable season and the future looks bright with one of the strongest populations seen in the past 25 years.
“We are pleased we could offer more digging days and a higher daily limit that allowed diggers to take home more razor clams than any season in the last 40-plus years,” said Kelly Susewind, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) director.
WDFW offered a total of 120 calendar digging days from Sept. 17 through May 7 on all open beaches — Long Beach (119 days), Twin Harbors (108 days), Mocrocks (60 days), and Copalis (53 days).
“Thanks to healthy ocean conditions providing very abundant populations of razor clams, the 2021–22 season was one for the record books with nearly 8.4 million clams harvested taken in 484,324 diggers trips,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
Here’s a breakdown of razor clams harvested by beach:
· Long Beach: 3,187,179 razor clams harvested on 189,384 digger trips.
· Twin Harbors: 2,092,415 razor clams harvested on 123,652 digger trips.
· Copalis: 1,612,069 razor clams harvested on 96,380 digger trips.
· Mocrocks: 1,233,103 razor clams harvested on 74,908 digger trips.
“These abundant populations also allowed us to raise the daily bag limit during a large portion of the season, the first time that has occurred since 1974,” Ayres said. Much of the season saw a 20-clam daily limit per person, up from the usual 15-clam daily limit.
The daily average for the entire season was 16.8 clams per person at Long Beach; 16.9 at Twin Harbors; 16.7 at Copalis; and 16.5 at Mocrocks.
Razor clams have been large, as well, with a combined average of 4.59 inches, thanks in part to a healthy ocean full of “phytoplankton” feed. Clams averaged 4.35 inches at Long Beach; 4.74 inches at Twin Harbors; 4.80 inches at Copalis; and 4.55 inches at Mocrocks.
“WDFW staff will now begin the work to reassess coast-wide razor clam populations and plan for the 2022–23 season,” Ayres said. “Early indications are that another great season is ahead, likely starting sometime in late September or early October.”
WDFW will also have a comment period around the end of August to accept public feedback for the 2022–2023 razor clam season. To learn more about razor clam abundance, population densities at various beaches, and how seasons are set, visit the WDFW razor clam webpage.
Be mindful of snowy plover nests during spring and summer
Even with the razor clam season finished, WDFW would like to remind beachgoers this spring and summer to avoid disturbing nesting snowy plovers — an endangered shorebird — by staying out of the dunes and posted areas along the southwest Washington coast.
Only about 100 Western snowy plovers can be found in Washington in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. The beaches where these federally threatened and state-endangered birds nest also happen to be popular places for human recreation.
Snowy plover nests are nearly invisible, and it is vital to give these birds the space they need to live and thrive during their nesting period, especially along the southern end on Twin Harbors — known as Midway Beach — and the north end of Long Beach. People should avoid leaving leftover food or trash — which attracts predators — on the beach and picnic areas, keep pets on a leash, stay out of dunes, and avoid areas which are clearly marked with posted signs.
When driving on the beach, please respect the 25 MPH speed limit and enter only at designated access points. Be sure to stay on the hard-packed sand near the high tide line to avoid crushing clam beds and snowy plover nests.
Click on the WDFW snowy plover webpage for more information. You can watch a video about snowy plovers by clicking here. WDFW is currently seeking public input on its draft periodic status review for snowy plover.