Countless anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Countless anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

‘Limited’ razor clam opening returns shovels to Ninilchik beach

For the first time in eight years, a local razor clam fishery was opened for four days in Ninilchik on Saturday, drawing hundreds of anglers to the area with buckets and shovels in hand.

The opening, effective only Saturday, July 1 through Tuesday, July 4, was announced in May by the Department of Fish and Game in an advisory announcement. That announcement said that an annual abundance survey for the clams found around 322,000 adult clams.

That count cleared by significant margin a requirement in the management plan for east Cook Inlet razor clams, set by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, that said adult clam abundance needs to meet or exceed 50% of the historical average to open a “limited harvest opportunity.”

That limited opportunity was for the four days, and restricted anglers to the first 15 clams dug. The announcement said that allowing the limited harvest will give anglers the opportunity to take adult clams that have previously spawned while continuing to allow the species to rebuild.

The announcement says that “poor growth rates” on Ninilchik beaches have resulted in clams requiring up to two additional years to reach adult size — if they do at all.

While adult clam abundance was found to be significant enough to offer the limited opportunity, juvenile clam abundance suggests that there will not be enough adults in 2024 or 2025.

“We are excited for people to have a chance to dig razor clams this summer,” said Lower Cook Inlet Area Management Biologist Mike Booz in that announcement. “Unfortunately, the current status requires this opportunity to be small this year and we are not expecting the fishery to be open next year.”

On Saturday, sprawled over around a half mile of Ninilchik Beach anglers could be seen scouring the sand for the signs of a buried clam. Many of the groups were families, towing young children who possessed even more zeal for the chase than their parents.

Some of the anglers said they were out early and excited to take advantage of the first opportunity they’ve had in years — especially because they don’t know when that chance will come again.

Landon Nauther, of Anchorage, said his family was seizing the opportunity to dig for clams for the very first time.

Saturday morning, Nauther led his wife and three children around the beach. He said they’d moved to Alaska in 2015, and since then, “It hasn’t been open.” He said they’ve been eagerly waiting for the chance.

As they moved back to their car with a haul of around 30 clams dug in around three hours, Nauther said that because it was their first time, he didn’t know whether they’d been lucky or not.

“It’s hard to know,” Nauther said. “We were catching pretty steady.”

For many others on the beach, the limited opening was a chance to return to a family tradition for the first time in nearly a decade.

“My kids grew up clamming. We haven’t been able to do it in a really long time,” Tanya Beck said. “So glad to be out here.”

Even as she spoke, a member of her party pulled a clam from the mud. Beck said that they’d seen success, but that Saturday morning’s tide wasn’t the best — they’d be back out on the beach Sunday.

Per tide predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Saturday’s lowest tide was minus 1.71 feet. Each of the three remaining days, information from NOAA predicted a lower tide, suggesting better odds for those in search of clams. Sunday, the low tide was predicted to be minus 3.20 feet, Monday’s prediction was for minus 4.30 feet and Tuesday’s minus 4.85 feet.

Whether they came up successful or not, Beck said she was just happy to be back on the beach. Still, she wondered aloud at the thought of the fried clams and clam chowder in her future.

“We’re just happy to be able to do this,” she said.

For more information about fishing regulations and availability, visit adfg.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Anglers move out to seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers move out to seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A woman takes a video of anglers elbow deep in the mud seeking clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A woman takes a video of anglers elbow deep in the mud seeking clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Countless anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Countless anglers seek clams at Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A bag of freshly dug razor clams is held aloft at the Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A bag of freshly dug razor clams is held aloft at the Ninilchik Beach in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Saturday, July 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Gina Plank processes sockeye salmon caught on the first day of Kenai River dipnetting with her table set up on the bank of the Kenai River in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River open for dipnetting

As of Tuesday, a total of 226,000 sockeye had been counted in the Kenai River’s late run

Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly won’t pursue further discussion on tabled bed tax resolution

Members say they’re going to work on a new version of the idea this winter

Gov. Mike Dunleavy pictured with members of the House majority after signing the fiscal year 2025 budget bills, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Anchorage, Alaska. From left to right: Reps. Stanley Wright, Tom McKay, Thomas Baker, Craig Johnson, Kevin McCabe, Julie Coulombe and Laddie Shaw. (Photo provided by Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy signs capital budget with $3.7M in state funding for Kenai Peninsula, vetoes $3.3M

Roughly $90 million in federal funding also allocated to Kenai Peninsula

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man arrested Friday after 30-minute police chase

The man had an outstanding warrant for felony probation violation

Most Read