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Razor clams -- A North Coast tradition

Fishing the North Coast Kenny Priest
6/8/11 -- Digging razor clams has been a deep-rooted tradition on the North Coast for generations. Not only are they delicious, it is a true family sport that can be enjoyed by the young and old alike. All that’s required is a clam shovel or clam tube, a sack to hold your clams, and a fishing license. Living in Humboldt County, we are extremely fortunate to have two of the best beaches in all of California, Clam Beach and South Beach in Crescent City.

My first experience at clam digging was a couple years ago on South Beach in Crescent City. I didn’t have a real good idea of what I was doing and only dug a couple clams. That day left a sour taste in my mouth and I wanted to give it another shot to see if I had what it takes. When John Corbett of Eureka’s Pacific Outfitters invited me to go with him to Clam Beach last Thursday, I jumped at the chance. We arrived at the beach at 6 a.m., about a half hour before low tide, and changed into our boots and waders and made the hike to the water. After reading and writing about all the fantastic clamming we’ve had this year, I envisioned a beach that would be elbow to elbow. But that wasn’t the case. On this day, there were maybe 100 other diggers spread from Strawberry Creek north to Little River. There was plenty of room for everyone to spread out, which was not the case on my first trip out of Crescent City. Once we waded out to one of John’s favorite sandbars, he gave me a quick refresher course on what to look for, and then it was off to the races.

John Corbett shows off a couple nice razor clams he dug last Thursday at Clam Beach. This has been one of the better years in recent memory for digging razor clams. The next set of fishable minus tides begins June 14th. Photo by the author.

Just about every fifth tap produced hole or dimple in the sand, which is an indicator that a clam has withdrawn its neck and started to dig. Within 30 minutes, we each had our limit of 20 clams. It’s truly a great day when you can dig and clean 20 clams and still be on time to work.

Clam digging made simple
While tapping the handle end of your shovel, look for a “clam show” where a clam has withdrawn its neck or started to dig, leaving a hole or dimple in the sand. There are three major kinds of “shows” to look for:

1. Dimple: a depression in the sand

2. Doughnut: depression with raised sides

3. Keyhole: this is usually in drier sand areas and is shaped like an “hour-glass” or is a hole with very distinct sides.

It’s best to look for the larger sized holes, which are about the size of a quarter. This sometimes indicates the clam will be larger, but not always. Clams will also show at the edge of the surf line when you pound the beach with a shovel handle or your feet. You’ll need to dig fast when digging in the surf as razor clams dig faster in the soft, wet sand.

Clams and Redtails
John Corbett reports the clamming continues to be red hot at Clam Beach. “If you haven’t made it out yet, I highly recommend you take advantage of the excellent clamming we’ve had this year,” Corbett said. The next round of fishable minus tides will begin June 14th. Corbett also reports that last weeks calm ocean allowed the redtail perch anglers to hit their favorite beaches, and the bite was on. “One of the top spots was the mouth of the Eel, where I heard the fishing was excellent and the size of the perch has improved dramatically, with lots of jumbos caught,” Corbett added.

Wind keeping boats home, weekend looks better
Marine forecast: The old north wind has been blowing since Tuesday, but the weekend ocean forecast is starting to look better. On Saturday, the wind will be coming out of the north to 14 knots with a mixed swell to NW to 6 feet and W 1 foot. Wind waves will be 1 to 3 feet. Sunday’s forecast is calling for wind out of the NNW to 9 knots with a mixed swell NW to 4 feet and WSW 1 foot. Wind waves will be around 1 foot. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

The Oceans: Eureka
In talking with the local skippers, they all agree that the warm water temperatures off the coast, which came with last week’s southerly winds, has moved the salmon out of the area. Whether they went deep or in close is anybody’s guess at this point, but they definitely aren’t out front in any big numbers. The north wind that’s currently blowing should push back in some cooler water with hopes the salmon will be with it. Current temperatures off Eureka are reading right around 56 degrees, which is four to five degrees higher than what the salmon prefer. 

Skipper Phil Glenn of Celtic Charter Service temporarily put away the salmon gear after tough days on Thursday and Friday. Saturday he made the run south to the Cape and found a bunch of hungry rockfish, putting five limits in the box. Sunday and Monday he switched over to Halibut and put fish on board each day. Monday was his best day with two keepers to 54 lbs.

Captain Tim Klassen on the Reel Steel spent last weekend fishing south and reports a very hot rockfish bite. Friday he put limits of quality-grade rockfish in the cooler, and he was back down there Saturday with the same results — and as a bonus, he was able to stick one nice halibut and 5 lings along with limits of rockfish.

Captain Gary Blasi on the Seaweasel also reports a tough salmon bite late last week. After taking the weekend off, he decided to go for halibut on Monday and that turned out to be a wise decision. He put three nice keepers to 61 lbs in the box, all coming straight out in 300 feet of water while drifting herring. “I think the halibut bite is starting to turn on a little bit and with the north wind blowing, I think we’ll be getting back to normal conditions this weekend,” Blasi added.

Shelter Cove
According to Russ Thomas of Mario’s Marina in Shelter Cove, they had a spectacular weekend of fishing down at the Cove. On Saturday, only six boats made went out for salmon and collectively they landed 20. The word must have spread — over 30 boats launched on Sunday and the unofficial count was over 100 salmon brought back to the cleaning tables. “It was the best weekend we’ve had a in quite awhile. Not only was there a hot salmon bite, quite a few quality halibut were caught and there were lots of limits of rockfish brought in,” Thomas added. The salmon action was equally as good on Monday and Tuesday, though the amount of boats dwindled since the weekend. The weather has been nice in the morning, and according to Thomas, we’re in the pattern where the ocean is nice in the morning and the wind picks up in the afternoon. Thomas also adds the redtail perch bite was wide-open over the weekend, with everyone landing fish.

Crescent City
Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the rockfish action continues to be very good, with the Big Reef being the top spot. With this weeks rough water, a lot of the guys have been fishing right out in front at the Can and doing well. A few halibut have also been caught, including an 80-pounder at the Big Reef last weekend. The salmon effort continues to be minimal, but there was quite a few fish seen jumping out southwest in 60 fathoms,” Hegnes said.

The Rivers: Lower Klamath
Guide Mike Coopman reports most boats are averaging four to five hookups per trip, with a little better action coming earlier in the week. “There’s been a good early morning and evening bite, but the afternoons have been slow. Most fish landed are in the 12-14 pound range, with the occasional fish to 25 pounds. There continues to be quite a bit of boat pressure, even during the week. The river is still on the big side and rising slightly, but overall it’s in prime shape,” Coopman added.

Questions, comments, tips, and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com


Fishing Reports

Trout is the big catch at Collins Lake
Little Wyatt Tillman and Jeff Incerty from Rocklin came out with three trout and they could barely hold up their stringer with their huge 6 pounder dragging the ground.
By Kathy Hess, Lake Reporter
02/28/15 -- We saw lots of trout this week over five pounds and it looks like half of them were caught from shore and half from a boat, either trolling or baitfishing with worms or PowerBait. Weekly trout plants have begun...Full Story
CV/Sac River salmon forecast hopeful 02/28/15 -- Although drought concerns still persist, the forecast for salmon off the California coast and salmon fishing in the Central Valley/Sacramento Rivers looks hopeful, according the Golden Gate Salmon Association...Full Story
Humbug to Horse Mountain: 1.3 million kings!
Chinook salmon caught and being held up by Larry Ellis, photo by Larry Ellis
On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis
02/27/15 -- This year, at least 1,298,600 adult Chinook are expected to be finning their way through the ocean in the KMZ, otherwise known as the Klamath Management Zone, an area that spans from Humbug Mountain, Oregon to Horse...  Full Story
Shasta bankers catching bass By Gary Heffley
02/27/15 -- With the strong winds whipping Shasta Lake into a froth, many boat anglers are staying off the water. The action has been limited to mostly bank anglers with many finding success on both bass and trout...Full Story
Tackle innovator to be at Nor-Cal Sports Show 02/27/15 -- Radio show host, seminar speaker, television personality, outdoor writer, author, photographer, angler/hunter- Sep Hendrickson will make one appearance Saturday March 7th at 2:00p.m. at the Nor-Cal Boat, Sport, and RV...Full Story
Salmon ocean abundance: 1 million plus!
CDFW Environmental Scientist and Ocean Salmon Project team member James Phillips, holding a Chinook salmon. CDFW photo by Kristie Amtoft
02/27/15 -- At the annual salmon informational meeting held in Santa Rosa today, state and federal fishery scientists presented encouraging news for sport and commercial salmon anglers. Forecasts suggest there are 652,000 adult...Full Story
Klamath had healthy return of salmon
Chico resident Nick Hanna landed this nice Van Duzen steelhead Sunday while fly fishing the lower river. Photo courtesy of Evan Oetinger
Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest 
02/26/15 -- So much for last year being a down year on the Klamath. Turns out the number of fall Klamath River adult kings returning to the river was much higher than originally predicted. According to the Pacific Fisheries Manage... Full Story
Pyramid Lahontan Derby is Mar. 14/15
 Sean Bottomley with 23 lb. 4 oz. 36-inch Lahontan Cutthroat trout taken at Pyramid Lake on Feb. 23. Photo courtesy of Valarie Taylor of Crosby Lodge
By Frank Galusha
02/26/15 -- If you haven’t caught a giant Pyramid Lake Lahontan Cutthroat, a good time is coming. Another derby will be held at the lake and hosted by Crosby Lodge during the weekend of March 14 and 15 – you won’t want to...Full Story
Some steelhead & salmon tags carry reward 02/26/15 -- Successful north coast steelhead and salmon anglers could catch a $10-50 reward for returning their fish tags this season. Of the more than 4,500 fish that were tagged, 3,000 are eligible for a cash reward...Full Story
Lake Berryessa bass fishing report
Jim and James with their prized catches from Lake Berryessa. Photo by Sid Silberberg
By Sid Silberberg
02/24/15 -- This past weekend (Friday and Saturday) were excellent but Sunday was very windy). Friday I took Jim and his son James out for the day. I went to the back of Monticello ski school the water was like glass but there was no...Full Story
Special low flow conditions in effect 02/23/15 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) informs anglers that sport fishing regulation changes have gone into effect for coastal streams in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties. On December 3...Full Story
Shasta County anglers staying busy
Brenda McClure of Redding, finding rainbow trout fishing success during a recent outing on the Sac River. Photo submitted by the Neil Amundson.
By Jeff Goodwin
02/23/15 -- After a rough start to our 2015 winter angling opportunities, things are really starting to heat up on our local waters. The clear skies and warm temperatures over the past few weeks have virtually erased our poor waterr...Full Story
Salmon abundance figures expected shortly
John Vincent from Sacramento, California caught this steelhead on the Chetco River
On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis  
02/22/15 -- Do I sense a tremble in the forest? Goosebumps in the gallery? Or perhaps the hairs on the back of your neck are standing on end? If you’re an ocean salmon fanatic and you’re wondering about ...Full Story
Bass think it’s spring at Nor Cal lakes
Ron Gandolfi holding 6.6 spotted bass taken at Bullard’s Bar
Article and photo by Ron Gandolfi
02/22/15 -- Here it is at the end of February and it feels like spring. Our warm 65-78 degrees temps have made it seem like the real deal. What is happening in the lakes is the same thing, the bass are thinking it is spring...Full Story
Trout to 8 pounds taken at Collins Lake
Angel Swan holding her 7 pound rainbow she caught on Collins Lake, photo by Kathy Hess
By Kathy Hess, Lake Reporter
02/22/15 -- We’ve had incredible trout catches this week. The biggest one was 8 lbs. on a stringer brought up by Nancy Stapp and Madeln Baker. They limited out and they trolled the east side either on a Rapala or Needlefish, the guys did...Full Story
CDFW invites comment on red ab plan By Frank Galusha
02/18/15 -- If you dive for or pick red abalone off the California coast, here is your chance to express yourself about the regulations on this fishery. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking public input to “inform the...Full Story
Hope for Snake River sockeye
Snake River sockeye, photo by FISHBIO
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO 
02/17/15 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] When it comes to salmon success stories, few can match the Snake River sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka). Not long ago, the Snake River sockeye was considered one of the most...Full Story
Travis Lee takes 1st at Pyramid Derby
The end of the rock jetty south of the Pyramid Lake Marina. Photo by Frank Galusha
Article and photos by Frank Galusha except as noted
02/16/15 -- Travis Lee of Sparks took first place in the Presidents’ Day Derby concluded this afternoon at world-famous Pyramid Lake with a 20 lb. 8.8 oz., 35-inch Lahontan cutthroat trout. Lee had the choice of a 14-foot...Full Story
First free Kid’s Fishing Day is April 4 By Gary Heffley
02/14/15 -- Anderson River Park in Anderson Ca. will host a free Kid’s Fishing Day on April 4, 2015 sponsored by the California Fish and Wildlife Department along with many local sponsors. The CFWD will have the park’s ponds stocked...Full Story
Mt. Shasta free kids fishing days set
2 men with thier daughters on Free Fishing Day at Mt. Shasta Fish Hatchery, photo by Gary Heffley
By, Gary Heffley
02/14/15 -- Three of my favorite days of the year are spent at the Mt. Shasta Fish Hatchery volunteering at the California Department of Wildlife’s Free Kids Fishing Days. Monty Currier of the CDFW has announced that the free...Full Story
CDFW wins lawsuit defending hatcheries 02/12/15 -- California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was victorious in the Third District Court of Appeal yesterday when the court upheld the agency’s statewide Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on its hatchery...Full Story
Junior fly tying classes planned 02/11/15 -- If you are age 10 through 17, and would like learning how to tie your own flies, you can attend a fly tying class that begins Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 6:30-8:00 p.m. The class is being put on by Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers... Full Story
Hatchery History in California
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
02/10/15 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] The year is 1871. California has been a state for just over 20 years and the country is mired in reconstruction following the end of the Civil War just six years earlier. Both the telephone... Full Story
Blake Jones Trout Derby is Mar. 14 02/06/15 -- The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau is already preparing for the very popular Blake Jones Trout Derby. They are encouraging everyone to save the date….Saturday, March 14th. Since 1968, the Blake Jones Trout... Full Story
Steady bite on for Upper Klamath steelhead
Rob Rash 1/27/15 Klamath Steelhead , photo by Scott Caldwell
Article and photo by Scott Caldwell
02/03/15 -- Winter Steelhead fishing the last 10 days on the Klamath River has been a productive relaxing adventure. One cannot go wrong with little to no boat traffic, biting fish, and weird spring type weather in January and now... Full Story
ARIS Camera aids fisheries research
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
02/02/15 –- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Close your eyes and plunge your mind into the depths of a rushing river at midnight. It's dark and cold, and the constant pressure of moving water -- weighing more than eight pounds per...Full Story
NMFS preseason planning for salmon starts 01/29/31 -- [Federal Register Notice] The Pacific Fishery Management Council has announced its annual preseason management process for the 2015 ocean salmon fisheries. NOAA Fisheries has published a notice in the Federal...Full Story
Release of 600K winter Chinook may save run 01/27/15 -- An increased number of hatchery-reared juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon produced from adults that were collected as a precautionary measure to offset anticipated in-river drought related mortality will likely be released in... Full Story
Future Pro Tour kicks off March 21st! By Vince Harris
01/07/15 -- The Coors Light Future Pro Tour will kick-off its 2015 season in grand fashion as the road to the Coors Light –Silver Bullet Angler of Year , Navionics Cup, and 2015 FPT Classic titles, begins anew at lakes known...Full Story
CV salmon regs changes expected 01/03/15 -- The CA Fish and Game commission issued a notice today advising stakeholders to expect changes in the bag and possession limits for Chinook salmon taken the American, Feather, and Sacramento rivers. The objective will...Full Story
Local lakes on CTT schedule
Keith Bryan with the fish that sealed the win and new world record at Melones
By Jason Haley
01/03/15 -- California Tournament Trail (CTT), the self-proclaimed Working Man’s Tournament Circuit, opened its doors in January 2014 at Lake Oroville and wrapped-up a successful inaugural season at Clear Lake in June... Full Story
Ocean climate revealed in tree rings
Large standing trees in a green pasture, photo by FISHBIO
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
12/23/14 -- Scientists have tried many approaches to unravel the complex puzzle of past ocean climates. Now, a recent study in the journal Science uses an unlikely source to put the pieces together: tree rings. The study's authors found... Full Story
'Get paid to fish' derby returns to Topaz
Topaz Lodge 2015 Trout Fishing Derby
By Mike Mogler
12/13/14 -- Dave Rossman, manager of Topaz Lake Store, reports the annual “get paid for fishing derby” starts as usual on January 1, 2015, New Year's Day, and will end on April 12, 2015 with a fantastic drawing... Full Story
Bottomfish anglers get knuckles rapped
pacific Halibut
Tom Marking GAP Sport Representative
11/20/14 -- We North Coast rockfish anglers are a victim of our own success! 2014 has been an eventful year for many reasons, but there are definitely winners and losers on the horizon. In a nutshell, halibut is a win/lose... Full Story
The Mystery of the Middle Fork, Part IV
Jim Broshears, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com
By Jim Broshears
11/10/14 -- This trip was to be the final chapter in the saga that began three years ago but is actually over 20 years in the making. As Bruce, Tuck and I journeyed back to the Middle Fork of the Feather River we made...Full Story
Climbing Terms for the Fisherman
Trailhead Tales by Jim Broshears
10/14/14 -- For those of us who prefer to fish the rugged and remote streams and rivers for the elusive wild trout, rock climbing is a skill that is required to reach the special places where catching the big one is a “sure thing.” The skills...Full Story
German brown trout afternoon in Modoc
german brown trout in Modoc creek. MyOutdoorBuddy.com
By Lea Huetteman
09/04/14 -- Catching a German Brown Trout from the creeks in Modoc County is a fine way to spend an afternoon. There are many creeks in this part of California that drain the Warner Mountains. Stream trout fishing in this region opens...Full Story
Throw the kitchen sink at them
Indian Paintbrush is a favorite wildflower that carpets wilderness landscapes. Phil Flip Akers, myoutdoorbuddy.com
Article and photos by Phil Akers
08/20/14 -- Our wilderness areas are special, where Mother Nature is landlord and natural forces operate freely. Within the wilderness you will find no roads, shelters, picnic tables, toilets, or other conveniences. You enter at...Full Story
Humboldt Bay: Busy port, excellent fishery
Woodley Island Marina, Humboldt Bay, Eureka, California
03/06/04 -- Humboldt Bay, a busy commercial harbor and home port to many charter and private offshore fishing boats, is also popular with shore-based anglers and small boaters seeking bottomfish, sharks, crabs and clams...Full Story
First Light
Boats in the harbor alight at night with a soft wake from a departing boat
Article by Matt Goldsworthy
03/04/14 -- Reprinted with permission of HASA (Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers) – Light is one of the most important factors to consider when fishing deep water. Over the years while fishing for Pacific halibut, we have always... Full Story
Pulled into the pipes: Green Sturgeon
green sturgeon
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
03/04/14 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Living in the Sacramento River can be a risky business for juvenile green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). The young fish must swim through a gauntlet of water... Full Story
Not Just Any Fish
California Golden Trout, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Not Just Any Fish, Phil
By Phil "Flip" Akers
02/14/13 -- Trout have inhabited California waters from the Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains to the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times. However, most of the trout caught by anglers are either hatchery raised fish...Full Story
Fishing with Phideaux
By Phil “Flip” Akers
01/26/14 -- Meet Phideaux, a 110-pound neurotic chocolate Lab. His name is pronounced “Fido” but it is spelled “Phideaux” because he is a Cajun dog. Anyway, last summer Phideaux took his human (that’s me) on a trout hunt up into...Full Story
A primer on fishing Lake Shasta By Gary Heffley
01/01/12 -- Shasta Lake draws more visitors to Shasta County than any other single attraction. While it is often a challenge to fish, it is more likely to produce stringers of fat trout or spotted bass. Trout to four and five pounds are caught here routinely...Full Story
Lake Oroville; 'tis the season By Chuck Giles
01/11/12 – Lake Oroville is probably one of the best lakes for sheer numbers of Spotted Bass in Northern California. This is not just on a seasonal basis, but year round. To start, I have a list of baits that produce decent results... Full Story

 

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