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    Do You Dig? Your Guide to Razor Clam Digging in the Pacific Northwest (part one)


    Having access to the incredible Pacific Northwest coast is the 12, 876th reason why you should live in Oregon or Washington! Make it a day trip or rent cottage; either way, there are so many reasons to get in your car RIGHT NOW and head to the beach.  Careful, you might love it so much you will want to snag a family beach house!! (And, I  “know a guy” who can help you with that!) A family favorite pass time for many Pacific Northwest natives is digging for razor clams. The search for clams is quite the adventure and the rewards are even tastier. With these great tips, you will be well on your way to perfecting this fun and delicious family activity.

    “But first, what beach should I go to?”

    A local favorite is Ocean Park, WA; a little town off Hwy 103, just north of Long Beach. You’ll want to stay in Long Beach if you are planning an overnight trip as Ocean Park is a wee small town. There are some great lots for sale there if you do end up falling in love with it! When you are ready to dig, take either one of the beach exits and drive out on to the beach. If you enter the beach from the main Ocean Park exit, you can go left(South) or right(North) for a few miles. You can guarantee you will see the crowds digging and figure out where your “lucky” spot is! Full disclosure: my family has an exact mileage measured for the perfect spot, but if I told you, I would have to my Uncle Scott would come after me.  There are plenty of secret spots for you to make with your own family, I promise!

    “What are the rules/regulations for digging?”

    You can only dig during specific clam dates that are released by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. The WDFW monitors the toxicity levels and razor clam populations and only certain times are lawful to dig. You need a SHELLFISH LICENSE if you are 15 years or older. You can get them at your local Fred Meyer’s , online here, or there are a couple places in Long Beach also. If you have any inkling that you will want to go more than once, I suggest you get the annual shellfish license for $17.40 for residents and $36.10 for nonresidents (discounts apply for seniors and veterans) A one-day shellfish license will run you $11.35 for residents and $20.15 for non-residents.  You also have a LIMIT OF 15 CLAMS PER PERSON, no matter what size the clams are. You also have to keep your first 15 clams, even if they are small. Each person has to dig and carry their own clams. If you have any question on what is allowed or not, check the above website because the fines are awfully expensive. (The price of a license is well worth it when you pay over $15.00 for an entree with only 4 clams!)

    “Are there certain hours for clamming?”

    YES! On the days that are open to clam, you want to go out to the beach about 2 hours before low tide. Ideally you want to already have caught your limit by the time the tide starts coming back in. For your best experience, look for open clam days that have the lowest tide. In the example below, Wednesday, January 31st 2018 (-1.6 feet) would be the best day to go and you would want to start digging between 4:00 and 4:33pm.

    The 2018 upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates and evening low tides:

    • Jan. 28, Sunday, 4:06 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Mocrocks
    • Jan. 29, Monday, 4:59 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Copalis
    • Jan. 30, Tuesday, 5:47 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
    • Jan. 31, Wednesday, 6:33 p.m.; -1.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
    • Feb. 1, Thursday, 7:17 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
    • Feb. 2, Friday, 8:00 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
    • Feb. 3, Saturday, 8:42 p.m.; -0.4; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

    “Do I go actually go in the Ocean? Will I get wet?”

    That’s a tough question! Some of my family members leave unscathed and others (myself included) get moderately wet and sandy! Here is the deal, come prepared and you will have an even better time. If you are properly dressed, you will stay nice and dry! And sometimes the clams are right at the shoreline and sometimes they are farther up the beach (but never in dry sand) It all depends on where you find the holes. So will you get wet? Most likely.

    “What equipment do I need to razor clam?”

    Most importantly, wear layers. While the coast is great for flying kites, the wind can be fierce. There are those rare occasions when you get a blue bird day and you can clam in a t-shirt and jeans, but usually during open clam times, it’s cold and windy.  Wear your RAIN BOOTS or waders. Many prefer to wear jeans and a light jacket while I would rather cover up and stay dry. Should you wear gloves? Most people say just dig with your bare hands, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: wear kitchen gloves! Like, actual old school, bright yellow dishwashing rubber gloves. They keep your hands dry AND they are thin enough that you can still “feel” a clam in the sand if you have to dig deep for them. I get made fun of all the time, yet I smile as I see everyone trying to brush the sand off their cold, wet hands! (your welcome) You will also have to have a CLAM GUN (it’s a tube, not a gun!) or SHOVEL for digging. This is personal preference! And then you have to figure out which style of clam gun you want! If you are a novice, I would suggest the simple long PVC tubes with handles. You can get them from your local hardware store for about $25. They last a LONG time so it’s a good investment. You can also buy them in Ocean Park or in Long Beach for a little more. You will also need a NET or BUCKET/CONTAINER to hold your clams. You can share a gun, but everyone has to carry their own clams. It’s helpful if it can clip on to your belt or pants so you can have two free hands to dig. I prefer a small black net that runs you $5-10 that they sell near clam guns. Many of designated clam tides are during sun down, so usually you need a FLASHLIGHT. A good, bright one! Some people use headlamps but it is hard to find them bright enough to find tiny holes in the dark. You are now ready to dig!

    To read more about clamming, see part TWO here.

    To get started house hunting in the GREAT Northwest, reach me at 360-218-4349. I am here to help!

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