Spend a Day Digging Clams at the Beach

Spring break is the perfect time to take a trip to the beach. Washington state is home to an entire coastline of open beaches and beach towns. The weather is rarely considered “beach” weather so bring a warm jacket, a pair of boots and a 4-wheel drive vehicle if you intend to drive onto the sand.
Copalis beach is the sand that is nearest to the town of Ocean Shores. The perfect example of a tourist town; Ocean Shores is home to hotels, kite shops, restaurants, scooter rentals, a go-kart track, candy shops and a dozen other ways to spend your time and money. Ocean Shores is only an hour and a half drive west from South Puget Sound Community College’s main campus, making it the top choice for a first-time trip to the beach.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has authorized several opening dates for razor clam digging during the upcoming spring break period. Razor clams are a large shell edible mollusk that are native to the Pacific Ocean and are commonly used as an ingredient for clam chowder, clam fritters or fried clams. Digging razor clams is easy, fun and inexpensive to get started. A 3-day shellfish license is only $8 and entitles the carrier to collect 15 clams per day. Don’t get talked into an annual license until after April 1st, because they expire every year on March 31st in Washington state. Each digger needs to have a bag to hold their collected clam limits separately from other diggers in their group, and a shovel or clam gun to dig with. The Ace hardware store in Ocean Shores sells the licenses and has clam guns and shovels for sale, prices range from $11 up to $150 each.
Copalis beach will be open on Sat, Mar 25th with low tide expected at 5:44 pm. Digging begins 1-2 hours before the daily low tide. There should be plenty of daylight for diggers starting around 4 pm, but a flashlight or headlamp is highly recommended if you intend to be on the beach after dark. Night digging is not recommended for beginners. Spotting a clam hole in the sand can be a little tricky in the dark and the water often creeps in unexpectedly while you are focused on digging and recovering clams. The hardware store also sells flashing red lights that can be attached to a vehicle. These lights help to find your way back to your parked vehicle if you wander any distance down the beach in the dark.
At the end of March, clam digging times change from evening tides, to digs that are scheduled to start before noon. Copalis Beach will be open as follows:
Frid, March 31 with an 9:47 am low tide expected.
Sun, April 2 with an 11:39 am low tide expected.
Thurs, April 13 with an 8:43 am low tide expected.

There are several other beaches near Ocean Shores that will be open for razor clam digging on other dates and times. The WDFW website, www.wdfw.wa.gov is the best resource for rules and regulations, opening days and times and maps of beaches if students are interested in learning more about razor clam digging in Washington state.

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