EXCELLENT WEEK AHEAD FOR RAZOR CLAMS, LINGCOD

May 17, 2008 12:00 am
A young lad from Roseburg holds two nice lingcod he caught no less than 10 minutes apart last Friday on the Brookings south jetty. (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).
A young lad from Roseburg holds two nice lingcod he caught no less than 10 minutes apart last Friday on the Brookings south jetty. (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).

By Larry Ellis

Pilot staff writer

Clam tides remain strong all week

For those who want to dig razor clams, this week actually falls in perfect harmony with the current fishing report. Minus tides started today and will continue for about 10 more days. If you have never dug razor clams, you should at least go to Myers Creek and see how it's done. Believe me, watching is tuition well spent.

The good thing about digging razor clams is that it is open 24 hours a day. So it's not like salmon fishing where you have to worry about getting to your destination precisely one hour before sunrise and quit one hour after sunset. No sir-eee! You can dig razor clams in the moonlight if you so desire, and many people have done it.

Sometimes there will actually be a full moon out when you're digging the suckers, when it's not yet sunrise. But the moonlight casts enough rays on the sand for you to get the job done. Your eyes have the ability to adapt to these low-light conditions.

So, starting today at 5:08 a.m. (you should really get to the beach at least an hour or two before low slack) you can be putting the first of 15 razors in your clam bag.

Last week I brought home a few razors and enjoyed them in some chowder with a close family member on Mother's Day. Hmmm, I wonder who that person might have been??? Yes, they were a little on the tough side, but boy were they ever good.

Razor clams are often fried, which instantly tenderizes them. But if you want to make chowder out of them, they really have to cook for a while. Anyway, the flavor was to die for.

Here's an example of how digging with the moon works. Let's take one day out of this week's clam tide series, say, tomorrow (Sunday).

The minus tide starts at 5:44 a.m. and will be a -.05 minus tide. But if you go to this Web site: http://www.saltwatertides.com/cgi-local/oregon.cgi, it will give you not only the time of the precise minus tide, it will also tell you how much of the moon will be visible and what time it sets.

For instance, tomorrow the tide starts at 5:44 a.m., but since you want to get to the beach a few hours early, the moon will be setting at 4:40 a.m., and 95-percent of the moon's disc will be seen as it sets. So that gives you about an hour of moonlight to dig razor clams by.

It just keeps getting better all week long. For those who aren't early morning risers, then wait until the beginning of the week to start your clam digging. The minus tides just keep increasing and give you a longer shot at the dig. But trust me on this one, there will be oodles of people out there pounding the sand with the handles of their shovels trying to get them to make a show.

Of course, the best thing is to be able to spot the show without pounding the sand.

Like I said, there is no better learning experience than watching an experienced clam digger dig them up. They make it look so easy, it's like poetry in motion.

Lingcod being caught off the south jetty

Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to be at the south jetty when a young lad was having his photo taken by his mom. The kid had just caught a really nice lingcod off the rocks on the south jetty. You could tell he was antsy about getting back to the spot, so he wasn't so keen about having his picture taken quite yet. The bite was just beginning and he wanted to be back out in the rocks.

I can't blame the lad. He reminded me a lot of myself when I used to target lingcod and black rockfish off these jetties. There is a small window of opportunity where you are actually able to get in on the action before they just quit biting.

So I followed the kid out to the rocks and, low and behold, he hooked into another nice ling and landed it.

My best day was three lings over 20 pounds, but that was when you were allowed a three fish limit. There is nothing more empowering than being able to know when to go after lingcod, catch them in that window I was talking about, and then stopping when you know that narrow fish op has stopped.

Well, my hat goes off to the young man from Roseburg who knew everything about how to catch lingcod from the jetty. It's a fine art, one that is acquired gradually and only by people who want to put in the effort.

I looked at what he was throwing. It was a white Scampi used on a one-ounce jig which is perfect for these jetties. He was working it close to the rocks. As I have often said, you have to work your lures in their homes. It doesn't do you any good to make long casts, that is unless there is significant structure outside to hold them.

That used to be the case a few years ago, but now all those railroad trestles and wooden structure they used to like to hide in have been taken out. So if you're casting way out trying to catch a ling – good luck. No can do. You must work every nook and cranny of the inside structure, letting your jig fall down the backside of many rocks, waiting for them to whack your lure as it's sinking, which is exactly what this gentleman did.

I wanted to get his name, which I did. But I wrote it on my cell phone, and being completely new to the cell phone era (I must be the absolute last man on earth to actually have one), I probably deleted his name by mistake.

But I guarantee you this. This gent will be back, and I've already observed his technique enough to know that he will be giving me another photo yet to come. But I have one for you to enjoy and to prove you can get some nice lingasaurs off the jetties if you put out the effort.

Anyone wanting to catch lingcod on the jetty, remember to be sure-footed, carry a long handled gaff or a net and a tide book, because they go on the bite about an hour before high tide until an hour after high slack.

And remember, any color is a good color – as long as it's white. Lings can't resist white. Carry plenty of one-ounce jig heads and you're good to go.

It's what I call cheating the system. You get to bring home some expensive fillets without having to spend $4 a gallon on boat fuel to get there.

Tight Lines!