Calling all clam-diggers: Now or never

FISHING: Enjoy rite of New Year's Day: Digs at five state beaches won't return in 2012

January 1, 2011 

If you enjoy opening the New Year digging for razor clams, then head to the coast today to try your luck at one of five beaches.

Today is the last day of a New Year’s dig at four coastal beaches, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says the tides will be too high to have a similar dig in 2012.

Today’s dig starts at noon and ends at midnight at Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. Twin Harbors beach is open today and Sunday from noon to midnight.

If you go, expect large crowds. The beaches have lured more than 22,000 diggers for previous New Year’s digs.

“Razor clam digging has become a New Year’s tradition for thousands of Washingtonians,” said Dan Ayres, the WDFW’s coastal shellfish manager. “We’re pleased that the tides allowed us to offer another holiday dig this year.”

The WDFW plans to release a tentative schedule later this month for this year’s clam digs.

SALT WATER

Belfair State Park: A clam dig will reopen at the park today. Surveys at the Hood Canal park indicate that clam population will support a year-round fishery. The recreational oyster season remains open in the designated portion of the park all year.

Crabbing: The portions of Puget Sound currently open for recreational crabbing close at sunset Sunday. Crabbers have until Feb. 1 to report their winter catches. All Puget Sound Marine areas will be closed until summer.

Tacoma: The area closes to salmon fishing today and reopens Feb. 1.

Central Sound: “It’s been slow in other areas of central Puget Sound – marine areas 10 and 11 – during the last weeks of December,” said WDFW’s Steve Thiesfeld. “But, hopefully, the fish will be there mid-January and the fishery will start strong.”

South Sound: The area closes to salmon fishing today.

North Sound: Squid fishing has been decent around Edmonds and Kingston, but fishing has been poor around Camano and Whidbey islands. Perhaps the best place to try is south of the San Juan Islands. Anglers are reporting success when the weather is decent. Marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) are open to salmon fishing.

Mid Coast: Westport and Washington charters reopen today to begin taking reservations for the 2011 season.

RIVERS

Columbia: Sturgeon fishing reopens today, and steelhead fishing continues to be good. Today was supposed to be the start of the barbless-fishing rule on the river, but the WDFW has elected to postpone implementation until further notice. The rule was delayed to avoid confusion for anglers because of differences with the Oregon fishing rules in the same area.

Cowlitz: It might be worth trying your luck to catch silvers near barrier dam. Steelhead fishing has been excellent of late.

Grays: WDFW fish biologist Joe Hymer says this is a good place to fish right now.

Skagit: Action has been fair. “There’s opportunity, it’s just not great,” said Mike Chamberlain of Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood.

Skykomish: “I wish I could tell you the steelhead fishing was red-hot here, but it is not,” Chamberlain said. But anglers are having occasional success, he said.

Kalama: Still producing good opportunities.

Lewis: Good steelhead fishing in recent weeks.

Nisqually: Worth trying for chum.

Stillaguamish: “As long as the weather cooperates and the rivers stay fishable, anglers should have some good opportunities to hook a hatchery steelhead,” said Bob Leland, WDFW’s steelhead program manager.

Skookumchuck: “The Skookumchuck also is a good bet for anglers fishing for late-run coho, as well as steelhead, “said Kirt Hughes of the WDFW.

Olympic Peninsula: “This is probably the place to go right now,” Chamberlain said. “The Sol Duc and Bogachiel are putting out fish and ought to be in pretty good shape.”

LAKES

Chelan: Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Family Guide Service suggests trolling the deep water for lake trout. Try using spoons in glow and UV patterns near the Yacht Club.

Riffe: Taidnapam Park reopens Sunday.

Rufus Woods: “Try casting Worden’s Black or Green Roostertails,” Jones said.

Spanaway: Fishing has been good on the south end of the lake with boat anglers catching limits of browns and rainbows. Power Bait is the best way to catch the triploids that are there to be had on the far side of Enchanted Island.

Washington: Chamberlain says there have been reports of anglers having luck catching trout here and on Lake Sammamish. The WDFW says fishing for perch, cutthroat and smallmouth bass might be worth trying too.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 craig.hill@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure

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