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Just about every fifth tap produced hole or dimple in the sand, which is an indicator that a clam has withdrawn its neck and started to dig.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While tapping the handle end of your shovel, look for a “clam show” where a clam has withdrawn its neck or started to dig, leaving a hole or dimple in the sand.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

Early for Lake Tahoe Macks
Lake Tahoe, courtesy of Big daddy's guide service
By Chuck Giles 
06/27/16 -- It is usually good news when my friend Captain Bryan Roccucci (Big Daddy’s Guide Service) calls me. This time was no exception. He had clients booked for Saturday and Sunday on Lake Tahoe for mackinaw and wanted...Full Story
Oregon Coho Season Opens Today
Man holding large Salmon chinook, photo courtesy of Gary Blasi
On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis
06/25/16 -- Starting today, Saturday June 25, anglers fishing the Oregon ocean from Cape Falcon south to the Oregon/California border will get a chance to keep hatchery-marked coho that have a healed adipose fin clip in the...Full Story
Young Anglers Rule Collins Lake
Grandma B and her girls (Anna, Aubrey, Alyssa, & Daniella) holding up fish, Collins Lake
By Kathy Hess, Collins Lake Reporter
06/24/16 -- Looks like the young anglers got into the action this week! That is a good thing, teach them young!! 5 yr. old Gavin Roberson caught his 1st Bass off our dock, using a worm for bait. Little IAN caught a 3 lb. Bass on the....Full Story
Eureka Still the Place to be for Kings
Kevin Jameson scored this nice king while trolling along the north jetty inside of Humboldt Bay, courtesy of Kevin James
Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest   
06/23/16 -- Abalone season is coming to a close. The salmon may not be flying over the rails in quantities of years past, but Eureka is once again the place to be for king salmon. And unlike last year when the fish were congregated...Full Story
Whiskeytown Summer Kokanee
Jaynie Goodwin with a nice Whiskeytown Lake Kokanee salmon she caught with a G.Loomis E6X 1012C Kokanee down rigger rod. Photo courtesy of Jeff Goodwin
By Jeff Goodwin
06/22/16 -- Its been a few weeks since my last report simply because not much has changed on the waters I'm fishing these days. There has been a bit of water fluctuation in the Sacramento River, and also at Whiskeytown Lake...Full Story
Channel Islands rock crab fisheries open
Channel Island, courtesy of CDFW
06/04/16 -- State waters around the Channel Islands are now open to both the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries. Today, the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), after...Full Story
Surf Smelt on Memorial Day Weekend
Jerry Back holding super perch, by Jerry Back
Article and photos by Jerry Back 
05/31/16 -- It has been several weeks since I’ve wet the line and this past Saturday looked to be a perfect time for me to make a break for the beach. I only had a few hours of sand and surf time so I didn’t want to spend it in the car...Full Story
State offers $200,000 in Habitat Grants
Habitate enhancement, photo courtesy of CDFW
05/25/16 -- California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) is accepting grant proposals for projects that enhance wildlife habitat and environmental restoration. The funds come from OSPR’s Environmental Enhance... Full Story
Pacific Halibut Fishery Opens May 1 04/27/16 -- California’s recreational Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) fishery season will open May 1. This year the fishery will be held to a federally established quota of 29,640 pounds. The open season dates...Full Story
CDFW: Dungeness, Rock Crab schedule
Crab in pot, photo courtesy of CDFW
 04/23/16 -- Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude at Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County (approximately 9 miles north of Santa Cruz Harbor entrance) to...Full Story
Tagged Empire Lakes trout worth reporting
This tagged rainbow trout will be released into Empire Lakes, helping biologists understand harvest data. ODFW photo.
04/20/16 -- Empire Lakes anglers have a chance of taking home a $50 VISA gift card if they land a specially tagged rainbow trout. Empire Lakes is a popular coastal rainbow trout fishery, and ODFW biologists need anglers...Full Story
Nor Cal Kokanee Power Tournaments set By Gary Heffley
02/18/16 -- Dates for the popular series of Kokanee Power's Trout and Salmon Tournaments are set for 2016 with three of the events taking place in Northern California. Kokanee Power is one of the top organizations promoting not only the...Full Story
Brownie’s Choice
Art work by Isabella Langaman
By Don Webster
Disregard the story’s title. I don’t really have a “first” name. If I did, it would probably be something like Leviathan or Behemoth or maybe Lunker. Officially, I’m a trout. A brown trout. A giant, brown trout. Possibly the biggest, fattest...Full Story
Keddie Ridge
Scouting Deerheart Lake, photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
11/14/15 -- Adjacent to both Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows, between the towns of Westwood and Greenville, is a seemingly forgotten piece of backcountry; Keddie Ridge – aka Ridge World – where ancient rocks... Full Story
Let’s check out the Upper Sac
Lake Siskiyou with Mt. Shasta standing sentinel. photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
09/06/15 -- The Upper Sacramento River – The Upper Sac – begins at Lake Siskiyou’s Box Canyon Dam and continues ~37 miles downstream to Lake Shasta. It is a classic freestone river born from the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy... 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
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
Agencies halt commercial sardine fishing
Commercial fishing boats dragging their fishing nets, CADFW
04/30/15 -- All large-volume commercial sardine fishing in state and federal waters off California has been prohibited as of Tuesday, April 28, 2015. The closing will remain in effect until at least July 2016. “This may be an end of... 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
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

 

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