Finally, the 2016 clam digging season is upon us. After endless delays and waiting, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has released a tentative schedule for the remainder of 2016. Many of the earlier fall digs, which were hyped up and caused a clam fever among diggers were cancelled due to grays-harbor-tourism-logoelevated levels of domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of algae that can be harmful to humans when consumed.

Razor clamming can be a family affair. Just be sure you dress for the weather and are ready to have some fun.
Razor clamming can be a family affair. Just be sure you dress for the weather and are ready to have some fun.

For months, clam diggers around the Pacific Northwest waited with baited breath, wondering if and when we would be able to get back on the sandy shores of the Washington coast. Finally, as fall starts to wind down and winter is quickly approaching, the WDFW announced that numbers of clams are up and toxin levels are down, making December the ideal to time to head west and dig for razor clams.

This year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been excited to get the clam dig underway. Earlier in the fall, they estimated that the total razor clam population on Washington’s ocean beaches had increased slightly over this last year, with a huge season expected for the Twin Harbors region of the state.

“Long Beach has the largest population of razor clams the department has measured in the last 25 years,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in a press release. “The population at Twin Harbors also is strong and should provide good digging opportunities this year.”

razor clam
Aaron Hulst is passing the razor clamming tradition down to his infant daughter. Photo credit: Aaron Hulst

Aaron Hulst of Gig Harbor has been clam digging the majority of his life. Starting out as a small child, clam digging has created lifelong memories along the crashing waves of the Pacific. Now, he is using clamming as a way to hangout with his daughter and pass down a love for the great outdoors.

“One of my most memorable clamming experiences was this May when my wife and I took our one-month old daughter razor clamming,” Aaron explains. “She obviously did not offer much assistance, but getting the little one outside at such a young age was a beautiful experience.”

Turning a razor clam digging in a family outing helps create a bond with nature, a love for the outdoors and a way to spend time together, away from distractions. Out along the coast, where the cold air and busy clam-digging hands force phones to be left in the car or your pocket, you will be able to talk, relax and enjoy each other’s company. A weekend adventure digging for razor clams on the Washington coast makes for a perfect off-season vacation full of salty air, razor clams and the creation of lifelong memories.

razor clamming
Beaches fill with eager diggers when the annual tides are announced. Photo credit: NOAA

The razor clam dig isn’t just limited to the Twin Harbors. Along the north coast of Grays Harbor, Kelsey Brazeau is another Pacific Northwest resident who loves everything to do with the clamming season. As a lifelong digger, Kelsey had her first clamming experience out in Ocean Shores in 1961. Now, with years of experiences in all types of weather, Kelsey is a wealth of information on clamming and the region. She recommends that if you are along the North Beach, head to the entrance off of Ocean Lake Way in Ocean Shores, as it gives easy access to clamming that is consistently good.

After getting your limit during the low tides of clamming season, both Aaron and Kelsey have recommendations to make the day even more memorable. After digging, Aaron highly recommends stopping by The Green Lantern Tavern in Copalis Beach. Described as a fun restaurant/bar to stop at on the way home, the Green Lantern is a cornerstone establishment along the North Beach. Open from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. (10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), The Green Lantern is an awesome ending to a fantastic day on the coast.

green lantern tavern
The Green Lantern is a local tradition to fuel up before a dig or warm up afterwards.

Kelsey enjoys a slightly different end to her clamming experience. She recommends stopping by Ocean Beach Roasters for coffee, lunch, breakfast or even a glass of wine. Another popular place Kelsey enjoys is Bennetts Fish Shack for a drink and dinner, capped off with a night of lodging at Oyhut Bay Vacation Rentals.

Razor clam digging has and hopefully always will be an important part of life in the Pacific Northwest. For millennia, clams were one of the dependable food sources for those living along the coast. Now, long after the first settlers moved west and located along the coast, clamming has become a quest to connect with the old ways of the region and dine on a delicious local delicacy.

Clammers of all ages will agree that there is nothing quite as delicious as feasting on clams that you dug yourself. This year, instead of continuing to hunker inside during the winter months, get a permit, proper gear and head out to the coast to participate in this year’s clam digging tides.


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