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The Fishing Report: Digging west side Cook Inlet razor clams

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 4:39 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For the past several years, harvesting razor clams has been restricted or closed on the beaches of the east side of Cook Inlet, but 28 miles west, massive tidal flats offer ample clam digging opportunity for those wanting to put in the work for some clams. The only catch: it takes either a boat or a plane to get there.

A handful of charter operators now make the run across the Inlet when the tides are right, but Ernie Kirby, founder of Bottom Line Charters in Ninilchik, has been making the run for decades.

“The whole thought behind that was clam sizes on the east side of the inlet started going down, and a friend of mine flew me over here and he just asked if we could get back here with my boat. I said we sure can, and the rest if history,” Kirby said.

Kirby only clams a few times each month when the tides are great enough to allow for several hours of digging.

“Besides, I’ve got two choices on those negative three or better tides -- the bigger tides,” Kirby said. “Do I want to get stressed out, go try to catch 12 halibut in a ripping tide where I’ve got to have five pounds of lead to get on the bottom, or can I come over here and have fun doing this? It was a no-brainer.”

Clamming is most popular before the end of August when the razor clams spawn and their quality for table fare declines.

You can find clamming regulations for Cook Inlet on page 76 of the ADF&G Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet and view emergency orders here.

Since we're already nearby, Kirby's clamming trips typically involve a trip around Chisik Island to view the historic Snug Harbor cannery and a seabird rookery on the island's West side.
Since we're already nearby, Kirby's clamming trips typically involve a trip around Chisik Island to view the historic Snug Harbor cannery and a seabird rookery on the island's West side.(KTUU)

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