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Razor clamming on the coast

<p>Despite grey skies, throngs of people make their way to the beach for the clam tide. The overcast skies help diggers see the clam shows better.</p>Buy Photo

Despite grey skies, throngs of people make their way to the beach for the clam tide. The overcast skies help diggers see the clam shows better.

<p>Like an Easter egg hunt, children are eager to find the prized clam.</p>Buy Photo

Like an Easter egg hunt, children are eager to find the prized clam.

Razor clamming can be extremely rewarding or extremely disappointing for the digger. Various factors determine the difference between limiting-out and walking away empty-handed.

Much larger than steamer clams, they can be prepared a variety of ways and stored until you are ready to use them. If properly prepared, they can be very tender and mild in flavor.

Things to know before you go

• Diggers should be aware of the time of low tide and be sure to get there about an hour before the tide is at its lowest. Stormy conditions that bring waves frequently up the beach may make it harder to see the clam holes, and should be taken into factor when bringing small children.

• Dress warmly and be sure to wear boots that will keep your feet dry.

• Store some bottled water in your vehicle for drinking and to rinse sand off your hands.

How to find clams

There are three kinds of clam “shows.”

• Dimple — a simple indentation in the sand

• Doughnut — shaped like a mountain with a crater, about 2 to 3 inches in diameter

• Keyhole — shaped like an hourglass or as a hole with very distinct sides.

Regardless of condition or size, every clam dug must be retained as part of your limit.

Digging

Clam guns and shovels are the two tools used by diggers. Clam guns are easier to use in wet to medium-wet sand. Diggers should be aware of the clamshell’s sharp edges, and should either wear gloves or use extra caution when reaching into the hole to pick up the clam.

Cleaning

• Rinse the clams free of sand

• Prepare a pot of boiling water, and place the clams into the kitchen sink with the drain open.

• Pour the boiling water over the clams to pop open the shells off of the clams immediately.

• Rinse the clams in cold water, remove the shells and discard them.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has a step-by-step tutorial on how to finish cleaning the clams at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/clean_prepare.html.

Before you go, make sure you possess a shellfish/seaweed license and some kind of container to keep each limit separate.

Razor clam season takes place from October to May, and dig dates are announced on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website. Typically they take place over the weekend and are either morning or evening digs.