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Spring tides mean dandy digging for razor clams

April 7, 2010


ASTORIA – The first of the big spring minus tide series starts next week providing perfect conditions for razor clamming and it just gets better.

“There are many minus-tide series in April, May, June and July,” said Matt Hunter, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Shellfish and Estuary Project Leader based in Astoria. “And there are plenty of razors clams out there that are four inches or bigger if people dig the larger shows.”

You don’t even need to wait for a minus tide for this great family activity, Hunter said.

“You can dig at a plus-one tide if the surf conditions are low,” he said. “Most people think they need to have a minus one or better, but if it’s a nice, sunny day you don’t have to wait.”

How low does the surf need to be?

“Under eight feet combined wind wave and swell is digable,” Hunter said. There are many websites that offer surf condition reports and forecasts for the Oregon coast, just search for Oregon surf report and you will have several to choose from. NOAA weather radio is another good way to determine what the waves are doing.

Where do you find Oregon razor clams?

The 18 miles of Clatsop Beach from the mouth of the Columbia to Seaside provides the stable sand conditions that razor clams need. Consequently, Clatsop Beach produces more than 90 percent of Oregon’s harvested razor clams.

Razor clam populations on other Oregon beaches may be short-lived because of the instability of the sand. Beaches that usually produce clams are Indian Beach (Cannon Beach); Cannon Beach; Cove Beach; Short Sands; Cape Meares Beach; Agate Beach (Newport); North Beach and South Beach (Newport); Waldport Beach; North Umpqua Spit; Bastendorff Beach and North Spit (Coos Bay); Whiskey Run (Bandon); and Meyers Creek Beach (Gold Beach).

ODFW reminds clam diggers to help ensure clamming opportunities in the future by following these clam harvesting rules:

  • The bag limit is the first 15 clams taken, regardless of size – small or broken clams must be included in the bag limit.
  • All clam diggers, regardless of age, must dig their own clams, carry their own container to hold harvested clams, and may not possess more than one limit of clams in the clamming area.
  • Clam diggers 14 years and older must have a shellfish license to harvest clams.
  • Razor clams may be taken by hand, shovel or with a clam tube at least 4 inches in diameter.

Some hints from the experts:

  • Look for siphon holes or “shows” that are dime-sized or larger to avoid small clams. Small shows, especially those smaller than the diameter of a pencil, are associated with small clams.
  • If you dig several small clams, move to a different area.
  • Broken or small clams are still edible. The cleaning process might take longer but they are still good to eat.

For more information about razor clams, digging techniques, and preventing wastage check the ODFW razor clam website.




Matt Hunter 503-325-2462 or Brandon Ford 541-867-4741

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