Outdoor Briefs for Saturday, April 12

Weeklong razor clam dig starts Monday

State shellfish managers approved a series of morning razor-clam digs starting Monday at Twin Harbors and expanding to include three other ocean beaches over the next week.

The Washington Department of Fish &Wildlife approved the digs after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed at any beach after noon.

Dan Ayres, Fish &Wildlife coastal shellfish manager, reminds diggers that anyone age 15 or older must have an applicable 2014-15 fishing license to harvest razor clams on state beaches. Fishing licenses of various kinds are available on the department’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

“It’s always a good idea to have a current license in hand before you reach the beach,” Ayres said. “Otherwise, you may find yourself waiting in line to buy one at low tide.”

The upcoming digs are scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

• Monday, 6:46 a.m.; +0.2 feet; Twin Harbors

• Tuesday, 7:24 a.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach

• Wednesday, 8:03 a.m.; -0.6 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach

• Thursday, 8:43 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach

• Friday, 9:26 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks

• April 19, Saturday, 10:14 a.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks

• April 20, Sunday, 11:06 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

Ayres noted that the weekend digs will coincide with two beachside events. The second annual Long Beach Razor Clam Festival is scheduled April 19-20, (see http://longbeachrazorclamfestival.com/ ) and Washington Coast Cleanup Day is set for April 19 (see http://www.coastsavers.org/ ).

Once the next series of digs is over, state shellfish managers will analyze harvest data and propose additional digging dates in the weeks ahead, Ayres said.

Fish &Wildlife adds options for coastal halibut fishing

Anglers will have three fewer days to catch halibut in Puget Sound when the season opens in May this year but will have more opportunities for halibut fishing off the southern coast of Washington.

The Washington Department of Fish &Wildlife sets halibut seasons using catch quotas for 2014 adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. This year’s recreational catch quota is 214,110 pounds for all of Washington’s areas.

“We’ve seen increased interest in Puget Sound halibut fishing in recent years,” said Heather Reed, Fish &Wildlife coastal policy coordinator. “As a result, we went over our quota there last year.”

To compensate, the department created overlap in halibut fishing seasons among Puget Sound marine areas, Reed said. In past years, halibut fishing was open in the western section of Puget Sound (Marine Area 5) on different dates than in the eastern region (Marine areas 6-10), allowing anglers to fish both areas. This year, the open seasons for both regions are more similar, requiring anglers to choose between regions.

This approach is designed to prevent the Puget Sound fishery from exceeding its quota, while minimizing cuts to each region’s season. Under this plan, anglers will have one fewer day to fish in the eastern region of Puget Sound but will have the same number of days to fish for halibut in marine area five, near Seiku.

Puget Sound recreational halibut anglers this year will be allowed to keep lingcod and Pacific cod caught while fishing for halibut in waters deeper than 120 feet. This applies only when halibut fishing is open in each of the Puget Sound marine areas.

Meanwhile, there will be more time to hook a halibut off the southern coast (Marine Area 1), where Fish &Wildlife has increased the number of open days per week to four this season, up from three in 2013.

“We haven’t been reaching the quota in the Columbia River area of the Pacific Ocean, so we’ve attempted to create more halibut fishing opportunities in this area,” Reed said.

Fish &Wildlife also has added a new nearshore fishery that will open Monday through Wednesday beginning May 5. Anglers will be allowed to retain bottomfish while having halibut onboard boats in the new fishery when it is open.

Reed noted that coastal seasons can be affected by weather, making it difficult to know exactly how long the quota will last.

In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form and must record their catch on a Fish &Wildlife catch record card.

2014 Pacific Coast halibut seasons

Marine Area 2 (Westport): Marine Area 2 opens May 4, two days per week (Sunday and Tuesday) for three consecutive weeks. The area-wide fishery will be closed May 25 and 27. If sufficient quota remains, the fishery will open the following Sunday and/or Tuesday and continue until the quota is reached, or until Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The northern nearshore area will open May 4 and continue seven days per week until the nearshore quota is reached, or until Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The quota for the area-wide fishery is 40,739 pounds; the quota for the northern nearshore fishery is 2,000 pounds.

Daily World staff reports

Marine Areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay): Marine areas 3 and 4 open May 15, two days per week (Thursdays and Saturdays) through May 24. If enough harvestable fish remain to be caught, the fishery will re-open June 5 and/or June 7 and possibly on additional days (Thursdays and Saturdays) depending on the amount of quota available until the quota is reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The combined quota for both areas is 108,030 pounds.

In Marine Areas 1-4, seasons will continue until the sub-area quotas are reached.


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