Fishing and Hunting Report: Six Days of Razor Clams; Crabbing Reopens

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Dig out those clam shovels. The first razor-clam dig of the season will get under way on evening tides Oct. 13 at four ocean beaches.
Digging days and evening low tides for beaches scheduled to open are:
Oct. 13 (Saturday), 5:41 pm (+0.3 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
Oct. 14 (Sunday), 6:26 pm, (-0.5 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
Oct. 15 (Monday), 7:11 pm, (-1.1 ft.); Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Oct. 16 (Tuesday), 7:57 pm, (-1.5 ft.); Twin Harbors
Oct. 17 (Wednesday), 8:44 pm, (-1.6 ft.); Twin Harbors
Oct. 18 (Thursday), 9:34 pm, (-1.4 ft.); Twin Harbors
“Low tides will occur relatively late in the day, so diggers need be prepared for darkness during evening digs in the fall,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2012-13 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.
Under state law, each digger can take 15 razor clams per day, and must keep the first 15 clams they dig to prevent wastage. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.


Late Season Crabbing Opens
After summer catch assessments by WDFW indicated there are plenty of crab available for harvest, most marine areas of Puget Sound will reopen for recreational crab fishing Oct. 13.
Waters reopening to sport crabbing Oct. 13 at 8 a.m. include marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 12 (Hood Canal), and 13 (South Puget Sound).
In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31.
Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 10 (Seattle/Bremerton Area) and 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island). The annual quotas in those areas were reached during the summer fishery.
The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.
All crab caught in the late-season fishery must be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Dec. 31. Winter cards – free to those with crab endorsements — are available at license vendors across the state.

Birdfest This Weekend
Calling all birders and music lovers, the 12th annual Birdfest & Bluegrass Festival runs Oct. 13-14 in Ridgefield. Events include birding tours and tours, nature photography and a lot of down home music. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and the refuge staff. For more information, see the festival’s website, www.ridgefieldfriends.org/birdfest.php.
One birder recently reported seeing a dozen sandhill cranes and white pelicans flying overhead along the “S” Drive at the refuge. Another spotted 400 to 500 sandhill cranes along with up to 150 white pelicans one evening in the Woodland Bottoms.

A pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers atop a line pole. Whether this game of "King of the Mountain" was a serious battle or just rough play can't be known for sure, but it did end in a bills-locked fall to the ground, with neither bird relinquishing his grasp until they hit the ground and continued sparring.

Hunts Underway
The modern firearm season for deer runs Oct. 13-31.
For elk, the early muzzleloader season ends Friday, Oct. 12.
I heard reports of a few hundred pheasant hunters hit Kosmos release site this last weekend. Apparently the secret is out and the hunting there is rivaling the competitive crowds of Scattercreek. If you go, get there early and bring a good amount of patience with you.
General hunting seasons for ducks, coots and snipe runs Oct. 13-17 and then reopens Oct. 20. Goose-hunting seasons also get under way Oct. 13 in most areas and continue daily through Oct. 25 before picking up again in November. However, goose management area 2B (Pacific County) is open Saturdays and Wednesdays only Oct. 13-24 and Nov. 3-Jan. 19.

Fire Restrictions Continue
The restrictions on WDFW-managed lands will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases. Hunters should also be aware that WDFW’s response to wildfire risks prohibits:
Fires and campfires are prohibited — Personal camp stoves and lanterns are still allowed; however, extra caution is advised.
Smoking — If you need to smoke, make sure you smoke in an enclosed vehicle. With the Red Flag Warning in effect across most of south eastern Washington, even the tiniest of sparks can cause a wildfire.
Target shooting — Use established shooting ranges.
Welding and the use of chainsaws and other equipment — On WDFW-managed lands, operating a torch with an open flame and equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
Operating a motor vehicle off developed roads — Do not park any vehicle in dry, grassy areas, as the heat from the exhaust system can ignite the dry grass. If you are operating a recreational vehicle, be sure you have a spark arrester.

On the Water
One of the highlights of my fishing news reporting job is the call I make to Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center. I open up our conversation each week with, “Hey, Charles, what do you know?”
“I know it’s slow,” he said yesterday.
I had been on retreat this week so I hadn’t been fishing to see for myself, but that’s exactly what I was afraid he’d say.
I see that the weather forecasters are calling for rain this weekend, I’ve got every finger and toe crossed, my prayers sent, and my rain dancing shoes on. I hope that’ll be enough to secure a good, solid rain, we surely do need it.
Once we see a good rain we’ll see some fresh fish, cooler waters and some of the lowland lakes that are suffering under a bad case of the weedy blooms will start to clear up.
“They’re getting some nice fish in the lower Cowlitz, the Columbia and the Kalama,” McElroy said. “The Wynoochie and the Humptulips is pushing out some nice fish, but you have to go where there is shore access, the river’s just too low to float a drift boat down it.”
The cutthroat trout fishing slowed down in the Cowlitz, but they’re seeing some nice sized fish.
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 1,160 fall Chinook adults, 146 jacks, 1,024 coho adults, 704 jacks, 15 summer-run steelhead during six days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 291 fall Chinook adults, 45 jacks, 290 coho adults, and 271 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam at the Day Use Site, and they released 278 fall Chinook adults, 31 jacks, 10 coho adults and 29 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood and released 145 fall Chinook adult, eight jacks, 13 coho adults, and 47 jacks into the Cispus River near Randle.
A total of 441 fall Chinook adults, 60 jacks, 571 coho adults, and 205 jacks were released into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.
River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,720 cubic feet per second on Monday, October 8. Water visibility is at 15 feet.
“The Westport fishing fleets is fishing near the mouth of the river in Aberdeen,” McElroy said. “Willapa Bay is just deader than a doornail, but they’ve been netting all month, so that’s no surprise.”
Puget Sound is fishing really well for silvers, McElroy said, and they’re starting to see some chum salmon coming in.
The fishing has picked up in Riffe and Mayfield lakes, Merwin and Yale are fishing well also.

Staying Safe on Weekend Adventures
Put fire safety first! Make a checklist for your weekend adventure.
As you gear up for outdoor escapades this weekend, make sure you have information to be fire safe. All of us are reminded of the importance of fire safety when we see images of the devastating wildfires in central Washington and close to home.
What can a kayaker from Mossyrock or an ORV-rider from Pe Ell do to prevent forest fires?
Well, for starters, make sure you are aware of anything that may cause a spark. Wildfires can start quickly from many sources including dragging tailpipes, fireworks, and sparks from your dirt bike’s engine. Make sure you know the following fire safety tips:
1. Be aware of your tail pipe. It gets so hot it can start a fire. Keep your vehicle’s exhaust system away from dry, grassy areas.
2. Leave the fireworks at home. Not only could they start a wildfire, but they are illegal to discharge on DNR-managed land.
3. Tell stories by the moonlight tonight. Learn the rules to having a safe fire when the ban lifts.
4. Two words — spark arrester. Heard of it? If you own a dirt bike or quad you need to have one on your bike. The spark arrester is a small metal screen inside your muffler and/or silencer that catches sparks before they leave your exhaust, land on the trail, and potentially start a wildfire. You can easily check your vehicle by looking with a flashlight or inserting an object into your muffler to feel for the spark arrester.
5. Put this number into your cell phone…just in case: Report a Wildfire 800-562-6010.
Source: “Ear to the Ground,” Wa State DNR, washingtondnr.wordpress.com

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Visit her website The (Almost) Daily News (almostdailynews.com), find her on Facebook (Kimberly Mason — The Chronicle), call 269-5017 or email kim@almostdailynews.com.