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A lucky thing happened last month. There was a razor clam season during our vacation! Razor clams on the Washington Coast are carefully managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. If you want to know how they manage the seasons – read this. As far as I know razor clams are limited to the Pacific Northwest up through Alaska. They are considered a delicacy – a delicious clam for frying, baking at high heat and chowder. Unlike a traditional clam, they are rectangular – long and kind of flat looking. They are also strong diggers so when you are digging for razor clams you are also chasing them as they dig down into the watery sand. It’s quite fun! The seasons are limited to the lowest tides of the month and often times those tides are at night. The only other time we got to dig for them was in December a few years ago, after dark and the temperature hovered near freezing. It was quite the adventure but we were able to get our limits (fifteen per person per day) and our taste for them was whetted.

Razor clam digging seems to be tradition passed down from generation to generation. We noted many families with grandparents, parents and kids all digging and having fun. Dogs too!

 

The view from our room as the dig got started before the tide was all the way out

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Heading to their spot on the beach

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It can be a dirty job and proper clothing is important. Some people like this fellow, use shovels.

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Even with hundreds of people on the beach, it doesn’t seem crowded and there were lots of clams for everyone

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Dogs like it

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This dog looks like he wants to help

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This young man was clamming for the first time

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He was happy to show me his biggest clam

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Some people work alone

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A couple of clam guns. To use this device, you look for a clam show – a small dimple in the wet sand – and then carefully angling towards the ocean you center the cylinder around the ‘show’ and then push it into the sand. There is a tiny hole that you cover with your finger as you pull the gun, now loaded with wet heavy sand, out and with any luck, the clam will be in that sand. Or not. You may have to repeat. Or you may have to reach down in the hole and grab the clam as it tries to dig away from you.

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Classic digging style

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The tide will come in and all traces of the digging will disappear.

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They are using the team approach

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This dog was wet and dirty

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Family fun

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Another group heads out

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Now that we have our limit, what do we do?

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Cleaning clams is the hard part

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The clam and fish cleaning shack

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