By Bob Brown
The first razor clam dig of the fall season scheduled for Oct. 6-7 is not a sure thing.
State health officials have concerns about the rising levels of domoic acid and are asking for an additional round of toxin tests. A natural toxin produced by certain types of algae, domoic acid can be harmful and even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.
Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said, “We are starting to see increasing amounts of the algae that produces domoic acid in our ocean waters, and for that reason we want to conduct one more toxin test to make sure the clams are safe to eat”.
Domoic acid test results are anticipated to be released next Wednesday or sooner. More information can be found on WDFW's website.
According to Auburn Sports and Marine, anglers are catching silvers in the Puyallup River, but fishing has been much better for silvers in the Green River, especially at the lower end.
Silvers are also starting to show in the Nisqually River, but not in large numbers. Angler activity remains high and the banks are crowded. Even though the Nisqually tribal chinook fishery was only eight days, tribal fishermen caught an estimated 12,000 chinook, which were sold for $360,000 according to Nisqually natural resources manager Georgiana Kautz.
The Nisqually Tribe also announced it will start harvesting oysters from its oyster farm on Henderson Inlet. The tribe spent the spring and summer planting young oysters (spat) and upgrading the racks where the newly-named Squali-Absch oysters are tethered to tumble bags. The bags hang in the water and roll the oysters around to make a deep cup and attractive shell. The tide is used to tumble the bags.
Margaret Homerding, shell fish manager for the tribe, said the farm is part of an effort to return Olympia oyster populations to healthy levels in the South Sound. The only West Coast native oyster was nearly polluted and overharvested out of existence until places like paper mills and other toxic-waste producers were forced to clean their waste water before being dumped into Puget Sound.
The Squali-Absch oyster was originally from Japan and brought here by former oyster owner Jerry Yamashita’s father who saved the shellfish industry by bringing in the Japanese oyster that was capable of surviving the difficult growing conditions of the polluted Puget Sound in the 1930s. "The oysters of the Henderson Inlet location are noted for their distinctive taste and are starting to be noticed by oyster connoisseurs,” Homerding said.
• The Cowlitz, Green and North Fork Toutle rivers closed to chinook fishing effective Oct. 2. WDFW reported the closures were necessary to ensure enough fall chinook return to those rivers to support hatchery productions. All three rivers remain open to other species fishing as listed in the 2017 Sport Fishing Rules.
Bob Brown lives in Roy and is a freelance outdoors writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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