By Chris Klint
11:28 AM AKDT, May 10, 2011
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says razor clams are plentiful but could be smaller on Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches this season, after thousands of clams were displaced and killed in a winter storm.
Based on a preliminary survey of a one-mile area of southern Ninilchik Beach, it's estimated that the area contains almost 1.2 million clams at least 80 millimeters in diameter -- up more than 600,000 from the last survey in 2005.
Fish and Game plans to survey the beach's northern section at low tides beginning May 14 to determine whether it should change the current razor-clam bag limit, which is 60 per day and 120 in possession on beaches from the Kenai River south to the tip of Homer Spit.
With total population estimates for Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches ranging from 5 million to 13.6 million clams, officials say recent annual harvests on eastern Kenai Peninsula beaches ranging from 350,000 to 534,000 clams are well within sustainable limits.
Fish and Game says a wave of younger razor clams spawned in 2008 are predominant on Ninilchik Beach this year, and large clams will be easier to find on Clam Gulch beaches or those south of Deep Creek. All razor clams dug must be retained regardless of size or shell damage.
If you go:
The Cook Inlet clam fishery is most easily accessed from the Sterling Highway, at points including Cohoe Beach (Mile 114), Clam Gulch (Mile 117.3), Ninilchik Beach (Mile 136 and 137.8) and Whisky Gulch Beach (Mile 154.8).
Fish and Game does not require a permit for personal use clamming, but does require a sport fishing license. Clams may be taken only with rakes, shovels, manually operated clam guns, or by hand. For more details, visit Fish and Game's website on Cook Inlet clamming or call assistant area management biologist Carol Kerkvliet at 907-235-1730.
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