Robust rebound for 2021-22 razor clam season -- thousands of diggers return to area's open beaches

By Angelo Bruscas

The robust razor clam digging season continues this week after 55,700 diggers hit the coast over the first nine days and harvested an estimated 1 million clams. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres discuses why this season has been so productive, what diggers need to know before the head to the open beaches, and what we might plan for going into the new year (maybe a New Year's dig) and into the spring.

This year’s harvest already has been robust, but Ayres cautions that “we’ve seen in the past that there is no guarantee the razor clams are going to hold over.”

Determining how many clams are available for recreational diggers is a complicated science that first has to account for tribal treaty rights to half of the mathematically determined estimate of how big the razor clam population is on any given season. Ayres and his crew make the assessment with a hydrologic system that basically pumps out the clams in a section of beach so they can be counted and tested. Samples are taken on sections of beaches from Long Beach to the Quinault Indian Nation boundary at the Moclips River, and that determines the estimated number of clams available for harvest. Tribal digs are then scheduled along with recreation digs, and WDFW keeps a running total to ensure there is overall balance.

While the clams did seem to hold over this year, Ayres said, there also is good evidence of young juvenile clams growing quickly. “Ocean conditions in the near shore have been very, very good to razor clams,” Ayres said.