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Razor clams, salmon abound in Puget Sound
Clam diggers have received the go-ahead to proceed with the first razor-clam dig of 2009.
Three evening digs are scheduled at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks Feb. 7 to 8, while Long Beach is scheduled for two digs Feb. 7 and 8.
As with previous openers, digging will be allowed only between noon and midnight.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife authorized the digs after a series of marine toxin tests conducted by the Washington Department of Health confirmed the clams are safe to eat.
As long as the weather cooperates, the weekend should be good for clam digging, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “There are plenty of clams and the low tides are early enough for folks to dig during daylight hours.”
Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park will remain closed but may open for a spring dig if the clam population grows to harvestable size.
Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.
A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2008 Washington state annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available at fishunt.dfw.wa.gov.
The fishery for resident chinook around the San Juan Islands opened Feb. 1 and, according to creel checks that day, anglers took advantage of a hot bite. At the Bellingham ramp, 89 anglers were checked with 36 chinook while five anglers were checked with four chinook at Friday Harbor Marina. At the Washington Park boat launch, 110 anglers were checked with 44 chinook.
Anglers fishing in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) can keep two hatchery chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit. They must, however, release wild chinook, which have an intact adipose fin. Steve Thiesfeld, a WDFW fish biologist, reminds anglers that, unlike in previous years, selective gear rules apply through April 15 in the Marine Area 7 blackmouth fishery.
Elsewhere, the blackmouth fishery in Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) seems to have slowed after several weeks of decent fishing, Thiesfeld said. Anglers in Marine Area 8-1, as well as marine areas 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), also can keep two hatchery chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.
“For whatever reason, the northern marine areas of Puget Sound seem to be the place to be for blackmouth fishing this year,” Thiesfeld, said. “Earlier this season it was Marine Area 8-1, and now it seems the San Juans are where anglers are finding the best fishing for blackmouth.”
On the rivers, there have been a few reports of anglers hooking some nice hatchery steelhead. But, overall, steelhead fishing has been slow, said Brett Barkdull, a WDFW fish biologist.
“Effort is way down,” he said. “It seems that most anglers have been out on the Sound blackmouth fishing.”
However, wild steelhead are starting to show up in the Skagit.
Barkdull reminds anglers fishing the Skagit that they must release any wild steelhead they intercept.