The first few days of razor clam digging approved this season, starting Friday, are very early morning tides, 4:30 a.m. on the opener. (Fish and Wildlife photo)

The first few days of razor clam digging approved this season, starting Friday, are very early morning tides, 4:30 a.m. on the opener. (Fish and Wildlife photo)

It’s a go: razor clam digs begin Friday

The first series of razor clam digs in the 2021-22 season have been approved by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with early-morning digs kicking off Friday, Sept. 17.

Shellfish managers approved the digs after results of marine toxin tests showed clams at all open beaches were safe for human consumption. The state Department of Health finalized the results early Monday.

“Getting the all-clear from (the Department of Health) was great news, and we’re excited for everyone to get back out to the beaches,” said Dan Ayres, Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager. “We’ll keep monitoring domoic acid levels … but so far we’re optimistic that it will be a great digging season.”

High domoic acid levels put an end to last season’s digs early, but levels improved enough for a dig at Mocrocks in May. Since May, toxin levels have continued to drop and stay below the “action level” of 20 parts per million — levels higher than that mean the clams are not safe to eat.

With COVID still prevalent across Washington, diggers are asked to follow state and local health guidelines, and to be respectful of the communities and local residents they may visit while clamming.

The following digs were approved, along with the low tides and beaches. Most successful digging occurs between one and two hours before the listed time of low tide.

A.M. Tides Only:

Sept. 17, Friday, 4:30 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Sept. 18, Saturday, 5:22 a.m.; -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

Sept. 19, Sunday, 6:06 a.m.; -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Sept. 20, Monday, 6:45 a.m.; -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

Sept. 21, Tuesday, 7:21 a.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Sept. 22, Wednesday, 7:54 a.m.; +0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

P.M. Tides Only:

Sept. 23, Thursday, 8:58 p.m.; +0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Sept. 24, Friday, 9:36 p.m.; +0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

Sept. 25, Saturday, 10:15 p.m.; 0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Limits increased

With strong razor clam populations estimated along much of the coast, all open beaches — Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, and Copalis — have increased limits through the end of 2021, with diggers allowed to keep 20 clams instead of the usual 15. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container, and all diggers must keep the first 20 clams they dig.

These are the first nine days out of 62 tentative dates scheduled for the season — details of those dates can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/news/wdfw-announces-62-days-tentative-razor-clam-digs-2021. All tentative dates are dependent on final marine toxin testing, which usually occurs about a week or less prior to each set of openings

No digging is allowed before noon during digs when low tide occurs in the afternoon or evening. 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 to an annual combination fishing license, are available from WDFW’s licensing website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/login, and from hundreds of license vendors around the state. WDFW recommends buying your license before visiting coastal beach communities for this razor clam season.

More information can be found online at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/razor-clams.