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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Just about every fifth tap produced hole or dimple in the sand, which is an indicator that a clam has withdrawn its neck and started to dig.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While tapping the handle end of your shovel, look for a “clam show” where a clam has withdrawn its neck or started to dig, leaving a hole or dimple in the sand.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

Can Predator Control Help Native Fishes?
Striped bass predation, Photo courtesy of FISHBIO
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
06/30/15 -- Even introduced, non-native fishes get their day on Capitol Hill. On June 3, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriation Act that requires consideration of predator...Full Story
Farm pond, oh farm pond. Where art thou?
Angler Tom Hargis was obvioulsy pleased to catch and release this beautful bass , photo by Bill Adelman
Article and photos by Bill Adelman
06/29/15 -- The thrill of victory doesn’t end with downhill skiing. In many cases, it ends with a farmer giving you permission to fish a private farm pond. When I relocated to farming country in 1959, it didn’t take long for the mystique of farm... Full Story
Fish deep for ocean coho and Chinook
Mary Ballman holding lingcod and rockfish limits from Port of Brookings, Harbor, Photo courtesy of Larry Ellis
On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis
06/27/15 -- Today, June 27, anglers north of the Oregon-California border may begin keeping up to two hatchery coho a day as part of their 2-salmon daily bag limit. As of late, Chinook salmon have been somewhat scarce...Full Story
Drought prompts transfer of hatchery fish
American River Hatchery tanks, photo courtesy of CDFW
06/25/15 -- With a fourth year of extreme drought conditions reducing the cold water supply available, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is moving fish out of the American River and Nimbus hatcheries for... Full Story
Lake Oroville has kings, bass & catfish
Ryan Tripp aboard the Orange Crush, holding King Salmon he caught on Lake Oroville. Photo courtesy of Ryan Tripp
Oroville Waters by Craig Bentley
06/25/15 -- Lake Oroville king salmon bite produces limits for trollers while the topwater bite for bass continues as water temperatures remain constant and channel catfish are on the bite! Afterbay largemouth bass provide good... Full Story
Closing CA waters to fishing a last resort
 Joe Munoz of Redding, aboard the Full Throttle, landed a nice salmon . Phto courtesy of full throttle Fishing
Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest
06/24/15 -- As the effects of the ongoing drought continue to mount, the California Fish and Game Commission has put in place emergency regulations that give the CDFW the authority to temporarily close fisheries experiencing low... Full Story
ODFW offers Summer Workshops 06/24/15 -- School’s out and maybe you're wondering how to fill those lazy summer days. Why not take yourself and/or your family fishing? Let ODFW show you how to get started with the new video series “How to fish for trout in... Full Story
Early morning bite best at Eagle Lake
Eagle Lake on June 22. Photo by Val Aubrey
By Val Aubrey, EagleLakeFishing.net
06/23/15 -- Fishing the last few days has been tough for a couple hours after the early bite goes off around a.m. Sometimes when the bite goes off in one area, it may come on in another. But, I always go back to where I left... Full Story
F&GC emergency fishery closures loom 06/23/15 -- The California Fish and Game Commission recently adopted emergency regulations that grant the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) authority to temporarily close fisheries experiencing degraded... Full Story
Hog Hunt Bass
Author, John Higley holds Bass he caught at pond near Whitmore, photo by John Higley
By John Higley
06/22/15 -- The other day, with an about-to-expire pig tag in my pocket, I went to a friend’s pond in the foothills near Whitmore where some hogs hang out occasionally. I saw pigs in the morning there a week ago, when I didn’t have a... Full Story
Finding Fish from Discarded DNA
Bluegill, photo by FISHBIO
By Erin Loury
06/22/15 -- To round out our series on environmental DNA (eDNA), in which we've described the basic concepts of this technique* in aquatic research, as well as its challenges and limitations**, here we highlight... Full Story
Fishermen enjoy Burney Falls area
A man fishing at the fast moving Burney Creek, surrounded by Forest, photo by Alex Colvin
Article and photos by Alex Colvin
06/19/15 -- Shawn Lewis at Burney Sporting Goods says that fishing on Lake Britton, on the Pit River below Lake Britton Dam, and in Burney Falls State Park is fair to good. Regulations vary, so be sure to have a copy of... Full Story
Mt. Shasta Kid’s Fishing Days canceled
Dead fish on the grass, photo by Gary Heffley
By Gary Heffley
06/17/15 -- Free Kid’s Fishing Days scheduled at the Mt. Shasta Fish Hatchery for July 11 and August 1 have been canceled by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The cancellations are due to the hatchery trout being... Full Story
Domoic acid levels too high for razors 06/17/15 -- With concentrations of domoic acid reaching levels not seen since 1998, ODFW shellfish biologists see no possibility that razor clamming on Oregon’s most popular beaches will re-open before the annual conservation... Full Story
The Problem of Predation
Pikeminnows prey on juvenile salmon as they make their journey down rivers. Photo courtesy of FISHBIO.com
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
06/16/15 -- Once set free in a new environment, non-native piscivores, or animals that eat fish, can wreak havoc on native fish populations. In the Colorado River Basin, such non-native piscivores are driving the Utah...Full Story
Dunsmuir continues trophy trout program
Upper Sacramento River trophy trout photos courtesy of the City of Dunsmuir.
06/15/15 -- Anyone can catch a trophy trout in Dunsmuir, California, this summer. Is that what you want to do on your vacation? There are many reasons you can do that in Dunsmuir. Plentiful water, easy access and... Full Story
Shifting Waters: Warmer Ocean, less food
Sea Lion pup, photo by FISHBIO
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
06/08/15 -- On World Oceans Day today, we're reflecting on the news that the California Current Ecosystem is changing. In this important marine environment off the West Coast, wind and water combine to fuel the production of... Full Story
Eagle Lake Trout/Pine Creek to get help By Frank Galusha
06/02/15 -- Various public agencies have agreed to implement a Comprehensive Conservation Agreement and Strategy designed to ensure native spawn of Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout (ELRT), a strain now facing...Full Story
Leave It To Beavers To Help Salmon?
Standing tree chewed by beavers, photo by FISHBIO
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
06/02/15 -- Although seen by some as a nuisance, the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) may prove to be a misunderstood ally in the field of riparian habitat restoration. Recent research has shown a linkage... Full Story
Favorite 10 Trout Lures
Rapala Shad lure
By Gary Heffley
06/02/15 -- Everyone has their favorites list, a post Letterman’s Top 10 list, a ‘best of’ list… if for no other reason, to get a discussion going or perhaps, an outright argument! I thought I would list my favorite 10 trout lures. These are...Full Story
Temp of Sac River water source too high 05/30/15 -- Tom Howard, Executive Director of the State Water Resources Control Board, has sent a letter to Ron Milligan at the Bureau of Reclamation, temporarily suspending the Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan...Full Story
How to make Tuscan Tuna Salad with Fennel By Frank Galusha
05/04/15 -- OK, you went ocean fishing. If your fish is fresh or if you have processed, vacuum packed and frozen your catch properly, there are many ways to enhance your meals. Almost everything taken from the ocean is not... Full Story
Pacific halibut 2015 regulations in effect
Angler with Pacific halibut, photo courtesy of CDFW
05/01/15 -- The recreational Pacific halibut fishery will open May 1 for the 2015 season. This year the fishery will be held to a federally established quota of 25,220 pounds. The season dates will be May 1-15, June 1-15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15... Full Story
F&GC adopts in-river sport fishing regs 04/23/15 -- The California Fish and Game Commission adopted changes to the Central Valley and Klamath River basin salmon sport fishing regulations for the 2015 season on Friday, April 17. The changes include fall-run...Full Story
F&GC closes Sac River in Redding
Winter Run Chinook, photo courtesy of CDFW
04/18/15 -- Recommendations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to provide dual areas of protection to Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon were approved by the state Fish and Game Commission on April 17... Full Story
OR DFW seeks help with stocking program 04/16/15 -- This year the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to stock 11,000 rainbow trout (including 3,000 of trophy size) in popular Lake of the Woods, and the agency would like anglers help in figuring out what...Full Story
Perch Fishing with Grandpa
By Bill Adelman
By Bill Adelman
04/15/15 -- Way, way back in the day, while experiencing my first panfish outings with my grandfather, he taught us, my cousin and I, ages 9, a secret system. Remember the pre-tied 6 pack of Eagle Claw bait hooks? The leader portion was... Full Story
The Uncertain Future of the Delta Smelt
Shimmering silver of a smelt, photo by FISHBIO
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
04/13/15 -- The lowest ever recorded index of abundance for delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) was reported earlier this year in the results from the 2014 California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fall Midwater...Full Story
Please respect your catch and the law By Gary Heffley
03/17/15 -- The state has set aside many waters to be managed as catch and release “Wild Trout Waters.” For some there is not enough and for some too many. The state also manages many waters as “put and take,” where those...Full Story
Fishing the Klamath below JC Boyle Dam
 Brian Buckingham with one of the larger fish from this section. This trout, estimated at 2 lbs., was caught near the BLM campground on the west shore six miles down the JC Boyle Dam on the Klamath River in Southern Oregon. Photo by author
By Trouteagle
03/02/15 -- Year round trout action can be found on the Klamath River within the 20 or so miles of free flow within Oregon and California. While fishing below the flumes at the JC Boyle powerhouse, it can be difficult to know just when...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
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
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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