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Just about every fifth tap produced hole or dimple in the sand, which is an indicator that a clam has withdrawn its neck and started to dig.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While tapping the handle end of your shovel, look for a “clam show” where a clam has withdrawn its neck or started to dig, leaving a hole or dimple in the sand.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

Eureka charter boat offering crab trips
Fishy Business, Northwind Charters in Eureka is ideal for crab fishing. Photo courtesy of Northwind Charters
By Frank Galusha
10/31/14 -- Matt Dallam, skipper of the boat Fishy Business of Northwind Charters out of Eureka, is offering trips for Dungeness Crabs and now is the time to book a seat as it looks like the ocean is going to be very nice in the days ahead...Full Story
Poacher sentenced after sting operation 10/29/14 -- After almost a year of court procedures, the last of 18 abalone poachers arrested in a 2013 sting has been sentenced. All 18 suspects were found guilty or pled no contest to the charges...Full Story
Upper Klamath River is full of fishing firsts
Eric Wall with his 10-plus pound, 28-inch steelhead taken yesterday from the Upper Klamath River. Photo courtesy of Scott Caldwell of SC Guide Service
By Scott Caldwell
10/28/14 --It was another epic day here on the Upper Klamath River east of I-5 and also an "Epic Day of Firsts" for angler Kevin Wall (of Ireland now a San Francisco resident) who anded his first salmon, his first steelhead...Full Story
CA Dungeness Crab season opens Nov. 1 10/28/14 -- California’s Dungeness crab sport fishery opens statewide this Saturday, Nov. 1. Every year at this time, recreational crab fishers eagerly set out in pursuit of these tasty crustaceans. Some set hoop nets and crab traps from...Full Story
New CDFW online Fishing Guide available 10/28/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has launched an improved online Fishing Guide to help novice and experienced anglers plan successful fishing trips. The new guide is faster and provides detail...Full Story
Lake Oroville: Level down; bass bite up!
Mark Gangler with a nice Oroville spotted bass. Photo courtesy of Ron Gandolfi, Oroville Bass Guide Services
By Ron Gandolfi
10/27/14 -- This is the best fall bite I have seen on Lake Oroville. We all know the lake is low and it is down from the last newsletter. Now at about 240 feet below full pool, Lake Oroville has become a tremendous opportunity to catch...Full Story
Fish and Fukushima
Erin Loury, FISHBIO, radiation counts on Tuna fish
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
10/27/14 -- The largest-ever discharge of radionuclides into the ocean from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in 2011 prompted many health concerns. However, as we described in our previous...Full Story
Late-Fall run to start on Sacramento River
Dave Jocobs, Dave Jacobs Professional Guide Service with Late-Fall King Salmon taken from the Sacramento River.
In-River Fishing News by Dave Jacobs
10/27/14 -- It's that time of year to finally say goodbye to the Sacramento River Fall run of king salmon and hello to the new late Fall run king salmon. Many anglers may not know this, and I would say the name of this run...Full Story
OFDW: No early Chetco opening
Chetco River Estuary, Bob Rose, Briookings, Curry Coastal Pilot, On the water, Ellis
On the Water by Larry Ellis
10/26/14 -- Friends, Brookingites, fishermen, lend me your ears. The National Weather Service is made up of honorable men.Their predictions came true last week when the Chetco River shot from 401 cubic feet per second...Full Story
What is a weir? When were they first used?
Willow Creek Weir, October, 2008, Frank Galusha
10/25/14 -- Did you know fishing weirs in several locations are used to capture and monitor adult salmon runs as they migrate upriver in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. Placed across all or part of a river, weirs direct upstream swimming...Full Story
Trinity spawning survey tracks 2013 results
Trinity River Salmon Redds & Carcass counts as of October 24, 2014
10/25/14 -- Charles Chamberlain, Supervisory Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1655 Heindon Road in Arcata released results of the spawning survey of the Trinity River today showing results similar to those...Full Story
181 CA dams may need to increase flows
Long Valley Dam on the Owens River is one of 181 California dams UC Davis researchers identified as candidates for increased water flows to protect native fish downstream. Photo by Stephen Volpin
10/23/14 -- Using a new tool, UC Davis scientists say they can identify dams that most likely need to increase water flows in order to protect native fish downstream. The high-priority list includes 181 dams in California including...Full Story
Upper Klamath above I-5 reopens for kings 10/23/14 -- On Friday, Oct. 24, the Klamath River from the Interstate 5 bridge up to Iron Gate Hatchery reopens to the take of Chinook salmon over 22 inches. The Iron Gate Hatchery has met the 8,000 adult fish number needed for... Full Story
Capitol City Showdown showcases river bass
Shane Peirson holding winning fish caught on Sacramento River for the Future Pro Tour Capitol City Showdown, Vince Harris
By Vince Harris
10/22/14 -- In the weeks prior to the 2014 Coors Light Future Pro Tour's final event of the season – the "Capitol City Showdown," there were “rumblings” from many that it was going to be difficult to catch fish -- let alone bring in a...Full Story
Eagle Lake: As good as it gets!
Yousef Habdad of Chico with 3.5 pound Eagle Lake trout caught on October 23. Photo courtesy of Bryan Roccucci of Big Daddy's Guide Service
By Bryan Roccucci
10/21/14 -- [Updated 10/23 with photo] The last several weeks have seen some outstanding fishing at Eagle Lake. Most mornings have us releasing quite a few fish and keeping the cream of the crop for the limits...Full Story
Swimming in a radioactive sea
Photo courtesy of FISHBIO, radiated seas, Erin Laury
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
10/21/14 -- More than three and a half years have passed since a tsunami severely damaged Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors in March 2011, but some concern and confusion still persist... Full Story
Red hot day on Upper Klamath
Denise Arnold with one of her largest caught today. By Scott Caldwell
By Scott Caldwell
10/20/14 -- [Updated 10/23] Team Burkus put on a Salmon show yesterday hooking up so many times we lost count. Rods bent all day -- a double hook up for Margi and Miles and Joe still counting his salmon as the biggest ever... Full Story
Bass go wild at Berryessa
Lake Berryessa 5+ poumd bass, Sid Silberberg
By Sid Silberberg
10/20/14 -- Friday, I went out with Bob, and boy what a great time we had! At first we were catching small bass but it was a lot of fun. Almost every cast brought a fish in. We were using P & K lures and they were great...Full Story
Pyramid Lake producing large cutthroats
tim zahniser holding Lahontan Cutthroat, Photo courtesy of Crosby Lodge
By Mike Mogler 
10/19/14 -- Crosby Lodge located in Sutcliffe NV. reports great fishing for large Lahontan Cutts. Since the opener on October 1, 2014, anglers targeting these large cutthroat trout that inhabit Pyramid Lake have had great success...Full Story
Best bets for Southern Oregon fishing
Man holding fish, Upper Rogue , Jason Halep
By Jason Haley
10/16/14 -- After a long, dry summer, drought has taken its toll on Southern Oregon fishing destinations. Popular spots like Hyatt Lake, Howard Prairie and Emigrant are essentially puddles. I exaggerate, of course,...Full Story
Lewiston Lake on fire for trout anglers By Gary Heffley
10/15/14 -- While most North State anglers are enjoying the very good salmon fishing on the Sacramento River, one of Northern California’s gems is getting little attention. Lewiston Lake, which is one of my...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
Atlantic salmon can take the heat
Little fish in the ocean, Photo by Steenstra E. Peter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By Erin Laury, FISHBIO
10/12/14 -- As global temperatures continue to rise, and the Pacific Coast endures its third consecutive year of record drought, discussions of how warming temperatures and low water levels will affect fish are... Full Story
Crunch time for halibut By Tom Marking, CA Sports Representative to the PFMC 
10/03/14 -- Bottom line, California is about to be taken to the woodshed by the PFMC for eating too many halibut cookies, again! From their perspective we have been errant children who need to be disciplined...Full Story
Data-poor model threatens rockfish seasons
China Rockfish, Wikipedia, Tom Marking, Poor-data modeling threatens rockfish seasons
By Tom Marking
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Aftermath: Eiler Fire
Aftermath, Eiler Fire, Thousand Lakes Wilderness, 2014, John Higley
Article and photos by John Higley
09/23/14 -- It had to happen someday. On my many visits to the Thousand Lakes Wilderness on the Lassen National Forest, I always thought of how much fuel there was should a fire ever start there. The trails were...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
The Myths and Realities of El Niño
Ocean Nino Index - ONI
By Jan Null, Certified Consulting Meteorologist
06/01/14 -- [Posted with permission of the author and Golden Gate Weather Services] The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continues their El Niño Watch for the possible return of El Niño later this summer or fall...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
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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
Oregon’s Lost Creek Lake is open all winter
By Cindy Broadwater
01/11/14 – Many outdoor enthusiasts may not be aware that Lost Creek Lake, Marina & Café near Trail, Oregon is open year ‘round. Not only is it the best bet for winter fishing and boating, but it may be the only game in town at times...Full Story
Sturgeon tagging requirements changed
DFW photo Harry Morse
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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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